The Bengal government, urged by the fireworks lobby, has decided to consider allowing the sale of firecrackers kept in stock through temporary shops and stalls.
The district magistrates have been to identify locations for such sale in their respective areas.
The decision was communicated to officials by a special secretary in the micro,
small & medium enterprise (MSME) department on Friday.
“… since the festive season is round the corner, the cluster people (firework businessmen) are eager to get permission for selling their fireworks in stock. The state government will consider the matter provided some recommended locations are identified for the selling purpose at your districts,” reads the letter.
Environmentalists have said the latest direction was faulty on several grounds.
They claimed that the decision by the government would pave the way for illegal fireworks to infiltrate the market through legal means.
It also constitutes a violation of a court order that only green fireworks can be manufactured, stored and sold.
“Firstly, most of these cannot be valid green fireworks as the state has so far only seven legal green fireworks manufacturers; and recently even the fireworks associations have said that they would not be able to organise designated bazi bazaars due to lack of availability of green fireworks,” said Biswajit Mukherjee, retired law officer of the state Pollution Control Board (PCB) and former high court-appointed special officer on noise.
Mukherjee said only green fireworks with a maximum noise level of 90db, measured from 5 metre, are permitted in the state.
“More important question is to ask where these fireworks stocks have been so far; as keeping them in residences or personal spaces is illegal...,” he added.
“Last year, a team of various state and central government agencies under court order found that illegal fireworks were being sold even in designated bazi bazaars of Calcutta either with fake QR code or without code. If the government allows the sale of firecrackers randomly in temporary shops in districts; clearly that will encourage the sale of illegal fireworks,” said Naba Dutta of green platform Sabuj Mancha.
A representative of a Burrabazar fireworks traders’ association said the step was necessary in the interest of fireworks manufacturers.
The Telegraph could not contact MSME secretary Rajesh Pandey for his response to the allegations made by the green activists despite several attempts.
2 held with cannabis
Two 21-year-old men were arrested on Friday for alleged possession of over 850g of cannabis, which they had ordered over the dark net, police said.
The dark net is a part of the internet that is only accessible through special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
Tanishq Pandey of Picnic Garden and Vivek Agrahari of Tagore Park in Kasba were arrested from an area under East Jadavpur police station, the police said.
“The two were found with 851g of imported cannabis, which they had ordered over the dark net,” said an officer of the special task force of Kolkata police.