Officials of the state environment department and the apex body of fireworks manufacturers in West Bengal said the death of nine persons in a blast at an illegal crackers unit in North 24 Parganas district on August 27 will not derail the move to set up five green fireworks clusters in the state which are likely to be operational by 2024.
Around 600 people engaged in manufacturing crackers, who belong to the unorganised sector, have been trained by environment department officials under the guidance of experts from central agencies such as PESO (Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation) and NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute), a senior state environment official told PTI, adding they will be housed in the five green fireworks manufacturing clusters.
"Our drive to create green fireworks manufacturing clusters in Maheshtala in South 24 Parganas, Haldia in Purba Medinipur and Bongaon in North 24 Parganas among the five hubs will continue. The locations of the clusters have been identified and each of them has enough space between two units," the official added.
Chairman of 'Sara Bangla Atasbaji Unnyan Samiti', the apex body of fireworks manufacturers, Babla Roy, said the Duttapukur incident in North 24 Parganas was an eye-opener as "materials such as potassium chloride and nitroglycerin" were found in the wreckage.
"No regular firecrackers are manufactured with potassium chloride and nitroglycerin as ingredients which are explosives used for making bombs. Ordinary fireworks workers can never be involved in such practices," Roy, who had been coordinating with the state and central agencies for setting up green fireworks clusters, said.
Demanding a fair probe into the Duttapukur incident, Roy said the association and the state were determined to weed out "all illegal fireworks factories" so that only green crackers manufacturing units remain operate.
Environmentalist SM Ghosh, who has been actively involved in campaigns to reduce noise and air pollution during festive seasons by regulating fireworks industry, said the illegal Duttapukur unit was actually making "peto" and "lal sada" crude bombs.
"The unexploded remnants found at the wreckage of the Duttapukur unit were not regular or green crackers. This was a unit for making peto or hand-held crude bombs to create panic among public. These are packed with ball bearings, nails and springs that are hurled in a radius of 50 metres or more," he said.
"It was entirely a bomb manufacturing unit. As a fireworks makers’ organization, we want a thorough probe into the Duttapukur unit," he added.
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