Though making of crude crackers in some parts of Chittoor has been in vogue for many decades, unauthorized deals such as manufacturing unbranded crackers, maintaining illegal warehouses, and hoarding stocks without proper licences have become a serious issue in recent years after some casualties at the illegal units.
For instance, police and fire department personnel received a jolt when two child labourers died in a blast at an illegally operated crackers manufacturing unit on the busy Tirupati-Renigunta road in 2017.
In 2007, three persons were killed in a blast at a crackers shop on Hare Rama Hare Krishna Road in Tirupati, during the pre-Deepavali rush.
Forgotten Pallipattu mishap
In 2009, a few days before Deepavali, public and officials were shocked when about 40 persons were charred to death in a fire mishap at a crackers godown in Pallipattu town of Tamil Nadu (T.N.), bordering Chittoor district. The police at Pallipattu then suspected the presence of local-made crackers, called "outs" in the godown leading to the fire.
Cheap T.N. crackers
Exactly a decade after the Pallipattu episode, from Satyavedu to Kuppam, hundreds of villages along the border with Tamil Nadu turn lively with Deepavali celebration, since the public of this belt depend on fireworks sold in T.N. areas, Reason? Cheaper price.
The issue of illegal stocks of branded crackers beyond permissible levels is also rampant in Chittoor district. During 2016-18, the Chittoor taluq police seized such stocks at several places. As recently as September, police had conducted flash raids at various cracker godowns and seized crackers worth nearly 1 crore.
Speaking to The Hindu, District Crime Records Bureau (DCRB) in-charge M. Maheshwar said: "In 2019, as many as 17 cases were booked and nearly 30 persons were arrested for violation of the Explosives Act."