VISHAKAPATNAM: With the Diwali festival about to begin, fireworks are booming in north coastal Andhra Pradesh. The festival is held on October 24.

The last fortnight’s incident in Aripaka village in Anakapalli district where two people were killed while making firecrackers led to a police crackdown in those parts. north of Andra.

Police said a maximum number of 50 criminal cases were detected in Vizianagaram district.

SP Deepika Patil said, 26 law enforcement officers were attacked in Vizianagaram division, 17 in Bobbili and seven in Cheepuru palli. Only 28 people or companies have the necessary licenses to do those parts in the country, he said.

Anakapalli is known for its good firecrackers. The product is in high demand in Visakhapatnam city. Apart from Diwali festival, crackers are used for Ganesh Nimajjanam festival, Dasara, weddings and political parties.

“We cannot call them factories. Families make explosives in their homes to survive. We are monitoring them to prevent further loss of lives,” said SP Gautami Sali.

There are 20 licensed operators but no information on illegal operators, said a district police official. Teams including the tahsildar, a sub-inspector and a fire officer are verifying licenses and zeroing in on those who are operating without a license.

The local villages of Sabbavaram, Anakapalli mandal (village), Devarapalli, Narsipatnam, Achutapuram, and Kasimkota mandals have been identified as unsanctioned areas. Most of the accidents and deaths have been reported recently from Sabbavaram mandal.

Sources said at least 60 people have lost their lives due to explosions and fires in illegal plots in the last four years in north coastal Andhra Pradesh. The highest number of 14 deaths was reported from Srikakulam when the explosives stored in the refinery detonated in 2005.

A retired fire official said the criminals buy raw materials from the open market and shops and their needs are ignored by the vendors. Sometimes they buy things from license holders and sell them for profit.

“The blasting was done in factories or adjoining buildings in remote areas, agricultural fields and local villages, by paying low wages to the workers. There is no surveillance on them,” he said.

Visakhapatnam fire officials said there are no licensed or unlicensed units.

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