Till 9pm on Friday, West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) had received only one complaint in its control room. It related to sale of fireworks at the manufacturing hub in Nungi near Batanagar. There were no complaints of firecrackers being burst.
In the past week, police have seized over 2,600kg of fireworks and lodged 16 FIRs under the stringent Explosives Act. With cops continuing to conduct raids in central Kolkata and other traditionally trouble areas during Kali Puja and Diwali, the figure is set to rise further.
Unlike the past when most major seizures took place in central Kolkata or warehouses, maximum seizures have happened across south suburban, eastern suburban and north suburban areas this year. Fireworks have been recovered from cycle parking lots near railway stations at Ultadanga and Tala in north Kolkata and from Pyarabagan in the south.
“There is a cat-and-mouse game under way. Perseverance will yield results,” noted an officer. The efforts appeared to have paid off on Friday with no violations reported till 8pm. The only aberration was from a pocket in Maheshtala.
The biggest seizures yet again were chocolate bombs, followed by shells and flowerpots (tubris). Some cops though are wary that certain routes from South 24 Parganas have not yet yielded the amount of seizures that is usually recorded.
Police have also chalked out high-risk areas where any attempt at violation will draw an immediate response. Covid hospitals are of highest priority where special forces have been deployed. Policemen are also keeping a watch on apartments and high-rises where Covid patients are in home isolation. Slums will also be monitored to prevent use of sound polluting crackers like chocolate bombs.
At the micro level, cops at Tollygunge police station have kept a couple of autorickshaws handy to monitor narrow lanes at Jhalar Math and Monohar Pukur.
On Friday, seizures were also made from the Jadavpur railway station area and a middle-class neighbourhood in Garfa. Raid at a warehouse in Strand Road and Beliaghata’s Chaulpatty also netted firecrackers. Police seizures have also been reported from Cossipore and Shyampukur in the north and Behala in the south. Police have deployed specific teams in each of these areas. While the patrol team will carry out area domination and chase-and-challan violators, a team of cops in plainclothes will be out to spot the violators.
Everyone though acknowledged much will depend on how much citizens cooperate. “People have behaved extremely responsibly on Friday. We are keeping our fingers crossed for Saturday,” said a PCB official.