Kolkata, May 7: A blast that took place at Midnapore in West Bengal which killed over 10 persons and injured several others has once again brought to the fore-front the shady world of illegal firecracker units.
To put in simple terms, an illegal firecracker unit is the one which operates without a licence.
While operating without a licence, they get to make firecrackers without undergoing the necessary checks and balances and end up making bombs (firecrackers) beyond the prescribed limit.
Take for instance the sutli bomb which is often used during celebrations. Here in illegal firecracker units, these bombs are manufactured irresponsibly and they are extremely powerful in nature.
No quality checks
Questions marks have been raised over the functioning of such units which manufacture crackers illegally. Without a valid permit, these persons manufacture fire crackers and sell them without having to go through the required checks and balances.
There are no safety checks as a result of which several accidents have been caused. Moreover they prepare bombs which normally a licenses firecracker unit owner would not be permitted to do so.
The bombs that are prepared have very high decibels which go beyond the permissible limit and also the chances of accidents are also high.
How the business thrives?
Normally the crackers manufactured at illegal units are cheaper compared to the genuine ones. These persons often put up their own shops during festivals or even supply it to dealers at a wholesale rate.
However it does not stop here. Most of these firecracker units which have been investigated have not restricted themselves to making crackers just for festivals.
The unit at Midnapore where the most recent incident occurred was found to be making crude bombs as well. There have been several such instances reported in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
On October 12 2014, one such unit was busted in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Several more such units came under the scanner and it had been found that apart from preparing crackers, they would even cater those seeking out crude bombs.
A person who can make a firecracker can easily assemble a crude bomb as well. Only the composition of the material used is higher and if hurled it could cause death as well.
Demand in West Bengal
If the local police decide to take up the issue seriously leaving all politics aside, it would be able to unearth several such units. The Midnapore blast could be a case study and a lead to cracking down on such units which flourish in the state.
The illegal units are found the most in the states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. There is high demand and most of the political wars on the ground are fought with crude bombs hence increasing the demand.
In West Bengal if one looks at the seizures in the past year, there have been over 600 crude bombs unearthed in different locations. It has been found that these bombs have largely been manufactured in illegal cracker units and at times at homes.
At the Mewana town of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh a large illegal unit manufacturing firecrackers had been busted in the year 2011. Investigations that followed gave out some startling facts and the worst that we discovered was that the crackers were being prepared by children.
Children are roped in as they grab less attention of the police. Their small hands also helps in preparing the smaller crackers. In addition to this deploying children is a cheaper option and it was found in the UP case that they were paid anything between Rs 20 to Rs 50 per day.
While speaking to the children, many had told the police that they would attend school during the day and work in the night at these units. Children in the age group of 10 and 12 were found in this UP unit and what made it worse was that at such young ages they were working in hazardous conditions.