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Series Of Illegal Firecracker Blasts Rock West Bengal, Third Explosion Within A Week

While no casualties were reported in this incident, a separate explosion at an illegal factory claimed the lives of three family members. The state government takes action by establishing clusters for green firecracker manufacturing and initiating a committee to investigate the matter.

Representative image of blast.
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Another explosion “linked to illegal firecrackers” took place in West Bengal on Monday, the third such blast within a span of just seven days. Though no casualty was reported due to the latest explosion which happened allegedly in the house of a local Trinamool Congress leader in Birbhum district, three members of a family were killed in a blast at an illegal firecracker factory in South 24 Parganas district on Sunday, police said.

The two back-to-back blasts followed a huge explosion that claimed 12 lives in another illegal firecracker factory in Purba Medinipur district on May 16. In order to make sure that such illegal factories do not exist any more, the state Cabinet decided to set up clusters for manufacturing green firecrackers industry and formed a committee headed by Chief Secretary HK Dwivedi to look into the matter, a senior minister said here.

Monday’s blast took place inside a house at Dubrajpur in Birbhum district but there is no casualty, police said. The house was partially damaged because of the explosion. "We cannot say much about the matter. It's still in a very initial stage. The cause of the blast is not yet known," a police officer said. Locals, however, claimed that the house belonged to local TMC leader Sheikh Shafik and “crude bombs stored there exploded”.

In Sunday night’s explosion at an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit at Budge Budge in South 24 Parganas district, three members of a family, including a minor, were killed and several others were injured, police said on Monday.The three deceased persons are 65-year-old Jamuna Das, her daughter Pampa Ghati and her 10-year-old granddaughter Jayashree. The number of injured in the blast was, however, not specified. The state government ordered a CID probe into the incident, a senior official said. The state Cabinet gave its nod to form a panel to look into setting up clusters for manufacturing green firecrackers, an official said.

The chief secretary-headed committee will comprise secretaries of the departments of home, finance, fire services, environment and urban development, he added. Municipal Affairs Minister Firhad Hakim said that the decision was made so that people's livelihood is not affected. "The committee will submit a report after examining all the aspects such as the place of the cluster, the number of people to be employed and the rules to be followed," he said. Meanwhile, a police officer said, "It seems that the blast in Budge Budge occurred after the explosives illegally stored in the house caught fire, which probably spread from incense sticks lit in the evening in the puja room located on the terrace of the house," he said.

At least 30 people, allegedly running illegal firecracker manufacturing units in the locality, were arrested and around 20,000 kg of explosive materials stored in various houses were seized in police raids in the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, the official said. Some people in the area, however, claimed that the explosives were "purchased legally". "We have the license for manufacturing firecrackers. We had legally purchased all those explosive materials seized by the police. This will ruin our livelihood," said Sajal Das, the owner of a firecracker manufacturing unit in the locality. Budge Budge area has a thriving fireworks industry. BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari mocked the state government after the blast and as in the case of the Egra blast, demanded an NIA probe into the incident.

He also alleged that the state police had tampered with evidence in the night while conducting the raid.On May 16, an explosion had taken place at an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit at Egra in Purba Medinipur district in which 12 people lost their lives. The main accused in the Egra blast died at a hospital at Cuttack in Odisha on May 19.

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