BERHAMPUR: Nalabanta, a tiny hamlet on the outskirts of Aska and popularly known as Sivakasi of South Odisha, usually hits the headlines during Diwali or when there is major cracker explosion.
The inhabitants of the village, mostly poor, eke out living by preparing firecrackers which are sold across the State. Despite increasing incidents of mishap due to blasts at cracker making units, the business continues to thrive.
A household industry in the village, cracker making serves as a major source of income. Though there are a handful of licensed cracker making units, the entire village is involved in making crackers prior to the festival of lights.
According to reports, at least 25 villagers have been killed due to blasts at cracker manufacturing units during the last three decades. However, the incidents have not deterred the villagers from engaging in the trade.
Firework manufacturing was first introduced in the village by the king of Dharakote. After Independence, villagers took it up as a profession. A cracker manufacturing unit can earn upto Rs 50 lakhs a year, most of the business coming during Diwali. The finished goods are supplied throughout the State and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Sources said the spurt in incidents of mishaps during cracker making was mainly due to involvement of unskilled workers.
Village leaders opined that petty firework makers can form a cooperative to get licence to manufacture crackers and prepare those in an organised way to reduce the risks.
Police are keeping a close watch on the cracker manufacturing units and their trade to avoid any mishap this year, said a police officer.
Illegal Crackers Worth Rs 5L Seized
Berhampur: Intensifying its crackdown on illegal cracker manufacturing units, Aska Police raided Mantapada village and seized crackers worth `5 lakhs. However, nobody was arrested during the raid. Last week, police had swooped down on around 30 illegal firework units in Nalabanta on the outskirts of Aska, popularly known as Sivakasi of South Odisha. Simultaneous raids were conducted at Badashi, Kolisahi, Thakurani Temple and on makeshift cracker units in sugarcane fields as well as on the banks of river Rushikulya. But no arrest could be made as almost all men folk left the village fearing police action.