OTHER STATES

Police keep vigil on illegal cracker units

Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: Despite numerous deaths due to blasts at illegal Diwali cracker making units during past years the dangerous seasonal trade continues in the district. These poor cracker makers are peasants. During this time when kharif crop requires less attention, they have time to manufacture fireworks without licence. Poor peasants get their whole family including women and children involved in the dangerous trade.

Sunil Rath of Ankushpur village said accidents that killed people in this dangerous seasonal trade had not deterred domestic fireworks manufacturing. Apart from Ankushpur such illegal fireworks industries are found at Bhetanai, Nalabanta and Kharada. Nalabanta happens to be most famous one as it is called Shivkasi of south Orissa. It has some licensed fireworks manufacturing units. But most fireworks manufacturing units don’t have licence at this village. For the past two months police have kept special watch on this village and its illegal fireworks units. On Saturday the police raided the village and seized Rs. 5-lakh worth of illegally manufactured fireworks and explosive chemicals worth Rs. 2 lakhs. In September similar raids and seizures were made on the illegally manufactured fireworks of the village. But the illegal manufacturing continues. According to a senior police officer, they are worried about prevalence of such large quantity of explosive chemicals in rural areas as these chemical are also used to manufacture crude bombs used by miscreants.

Raw materials

The main raw materials of the fireworks manufactured in these rural areas are, chemicals like potash, sulphur, iron, zinc, aluminium. According to sources these chemicals are collected clandestinely from Berhampur and Kolkata. The other major ingredients are the bamboo strips procured from from Balipadar, Bhetanai, Jagannathprasad areas. For decades, they have been making an innovative cracker from palm leaves which is known in the State as ‘Aska chakra’. It is named so as it is manufactured at villages near Aska. This cheap cracker spins like a ’chakra’, rises high like a rocket and explodes mid-air.