The cabinet on Monday approved Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kiln Establishment (Control) (Amendment) Bill 2018 incorporating concrete blocks and hollow blocks as bricks. 
Obtaining licence for producing bricks has been made mandatory, but it would not require any licence to produce concrete blocks, according to the draft. 
After the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Shiekh Hasina at Prime Minister’ Office, cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told reporters at the secretariat that brick manufacturers except the block producers must obtain licence. This provision would discourage production of burned bricks and encourage manufacture of concrete blocks, he added.
The bill was placed by the environment, forests and climate change ministry in the meeting. 
The cabinet secretary said according to the amended bill unauthorised fire-burnt brick producers could be punished with up-to one-year jail and Tk five lakh fine, while it was maximum one-year jail and Tk one lakh fine in the present law. 
The amended law would also prohibit extraction of soil from wetlands for production of fired bricks and would keep provision for punishing the violators with two-year prison sentence and Tk five lakh fine, which was only Tk 2 lakh in existing law, he added. 
Earlier on March 8, the Public Works Department overseeing most of the government’s construction works issued an official order referring Housing and Building Research Institute-invented non-burn bricks as mandatory material for all public works. 
According to the Department of Environment’s assessment in 2017, around 7,000 brick kilns in the country produce 2,300 crore pieces of burnt clay bricks from around 300 crore cubic feet of topsoil annually.
The assessment found that more than 50 lakh tonnes of coal and 30 lakh tonnes of wood were used as fuel at brick kilns releasing approximately 1.5 crore tonnes of carbon in the air annually. 
The cabinet also approved the drafts of ‘Bangladesh National Social Welfare Council Bill 2018’, ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University Bill 2018’, National Information and Communication Technology Guidelines 2018 and National Telecommunications Guidelines 2018, the cabinet secretary said. 
It endorsed signing of two treaties with the Republic of South Africa—one on extradition of detainees and the other on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. 
The cabinet also approved the calendar of public holidays for 2019.