ATHAGARH : Despite alarming frequency of accidents in cracker units and strict regulations, illegal cracker manufacturing units thrive at Puruna Tigiria, known as mini Sivakasi in Athagarh, ahead of Diwali. In dozens of villages, cracker making is a cottage industry and backyards of houses have become workshops.Hundreds of illegal cracker units are running in almost every household at Puruna Tigiria. This is allegedly done with the patronage of police, officials and local leaders who in turn get lakhs of rupees as bribe, sources said.
In the last 10 years, the village has witnessed several casualties. There are also reports of thatched houses catching fire due to cracker explosion. In 2012, three persons died and over 20 thatched houses were gutted due to cracker blast in the village. Every year, particularly during Diwali, several fire mishaps are reported in Puruna Tigiria.
Sources said making crackers is the traditional business of around 250 families with a turnover of over `three crore every year during Diwali. These units store explosives in huge quantity and use it for making firecrackers. They also make bombs on orders placed by anti-socials. The business is run by a few traders who are financing the cracker makers as hundreds of workers of the area are engaged in the job, sources added.
Locals alleged that these units are functioning dangerously close to their houses. Even raw materials are distributed by the traders to the villagers for making firecrackers. A majority of workers, who are engaged in manufacture of firecrackers, come from poorest sections and many of them are addicted to liquor. No steps have been taken to put a check on the illegal units, they said.
Contacted, Athagarh SDPO Prakash Chandra Pal said necessary instruction has been given to the local police to conduct frequent raids on illegal units. Tigiria IIC Susanta Satpathy said a few villagers have obtained licence to manufacture firecrackers while several units are running illegally. Raids will continue in the village and its nearby areas, he said.