The lure of money is stronger than the fear of law. Many illegal cracker manufacturing units are operating in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts ahead of Diwali. Repeated raids and seizure of explosive material do not seem to deter them.
Police, on their part had filed many cases for unauthorized manufacturing of fire crackers in Ponduru and Rajam of Srikakulam district, Bobbili, Paravatipuram, and other places in Vizianagaram district.
Here are some statistics. Vizianagaram police had filed 11 cases in 2017 under IPC 285, 286 and 336 Sections for violating norms. It had booked 65 cases in 2018 to prevent fire mishaps. Vizianagaram Superintendent of Police B. Raja Kumari directed all police stations in 34 mandals to be vigilant for the next few weeks as manufacturing might take place ahead of Diwali. Three houses got damaged due to cracker explosion in Bobbili in September putting the police on high alert. "Vizianagaram is one of the major hubs for crackers business in Andhra Pradesh. Many people from Odisha also buy them here.
In fact, local traders are encouraging a few people to make them here itself instead of importing from Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. They wanted to save GST and transport costs. It is leading to setting up of unauthorized manufacturing centres in the district," said a senior official.
Many people died in a fire cracker explosion in the town in 1994 which made authorities shift all the shops to Vizianagaram-Gajapathinagaram road. But there was no absolute control over manufacturing in the district, according to sources.
As far as Srikakulam is concerned, Superintendent of Police R. N. Ammi Reddy and District Fire Officer Ch. Kripavaram conducted separate review meetings over the issue. Mr. Ammireddy said any manufacturing should be done in accordance with the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.