The state-level organisation of fireworks traders on Monday decided to deploy its own volunteers to trace illegal units across Bengal as explosions in such hubs cast a cloud over their legal trade.
“Our legal production has been stopped after the explosion in East Mindapore’s Egra in May this year. At a time when we are trying to restart our business before Durga Puja, Sunday’s explosion again cast a cloud over it. We will deploy our volunteers to trace such illegal modules producing banned crackers or bombs to save the legal stakeholders of the industry,” said Babla Roy, the chairman of All Bengal Fireworks Association in a news conference at the Press Club here.
Roy said he had already communicated the plan with the state government and chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who on August 23 announced five clusters for green crackers in two 24-Parganas and two Midnapores.
According to Roy, the volume of fireworks business in Bengal in a fiscal year is Rs 60,000 crore and the sector involves 31 lakh people across the state.
After 12 persons were killed in the blast in an illegal fireworks factory in East Midnapore’s Egra on May 16, the state government banned the production of any type of firecrackers till further orders. The traders are afraid that the explosion in Duttapukur in North 24-Parganas would delay their process of resuming production.
“The illegal factories are maligning our legal trade. Lakhs of families are dependent on this sector and we will lose the market of Durga Puja and Diwali if we fail to start production soon,” added Roy after accusing the police of failure to bust illegal fireworks units.
He claimed the local Trinamul MLA and state food and supply minister Rathin Ghosh should have had information about the running of illegal units there.
The members of the association said they would choose one lakh of their members involved in the legal manufacturing of fireworks to trace illegal units in their respective areas. The members would give the local police inputs to bust illegal units.
A member said they would work "silently" to bust the illegal units and save their legal business.
“After the Egra blast, police had arrested over 300 people across the state and seized huge materials used in manufacturing legal fireworks. In Duttapukur, we saw how the police failed to keep vigil on the unit running for a year. It may be that local police were hand-in-glove in the operations of that illegal unit,” said a member.
The state government has suspended two police officers, including the Duttapukur IC, for lapses in duty.
A senior state government official, however, asked why the association did not take the same initiative after the Egra explosion. To this, a member of the association said it isn't normally possible to know who is making banned crackers secretly.