Bengal: 86 deaths in firecracker unit blasts in 12 years, says pollution control board
The WBPCB has filed suit with the National Green Tribunal, accusing the state government of taking no action against over 5,500 illegal firecracker factories
The issue of mushrooming illegal firecracker factories in West Bengal seems to be snowballing into a major tussle between the West Bengal Pollution Control (WBPCB) and the state government, especially after the recent explosion in a warehouse at Duttapukur in North 24 Parganas, which claimed nine lives.
The chief legal officer of WBPCB has filed suit with the eastern region bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), accusing the state government of taking no action against over 5,500 such illegal entities, including manufacturing factories and warehouses.
In the petition, where the WBPCB has also accused the state government of violating the NGT order time and again, the petitioner has claimed that owing to negligence on the part of the state government, there have been periodic accidents in different illegal firecracker outlets in the state over the last few years.
According to the WBPCB, currently there are only seven environment-friendly or 'green' cracker manufacturing units in the state as per the official records of the state government.
The board, on this point, has questioned why the state government has so far seemed "reluctant" to push for the setting up of more such green units so that more deadly blasts can be avoided.
In the petition filed with the NGT, the WBPCB official has elaborated statistics of blast-related deaths since 2011, according to which as many as 86 persons have died in explosions in different illegal firecracker units in the last 12 years.
West Bengal has made national headlines for the past few months owing to successive blasts in illegal firecracker utilities in different pockets of the state.
On 16 May this year, as many as nine persons died in a blast in an illegal firecracker factory at Egra in East Midnapore district. The owner of the factory, Bhanu Bag, was among those killed.
Again on 21 May, there was a similar blast in Budge Budge in South 24 Parganas district. Though no one was killed, a few people were injured and the event revealed how the entire Budge Budge area had become a hub for illegal firecracker factories and warehouses.