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Enjoying fireworks with the family might prove dangerous this Diwali. Not just because firecrackers are unsafe for the environment, but also because chances are that it could be harmful for those near it at the time of fireworks as fake products from neighbouring state Uttar Pradesh have flooded markets in Delhi.
A Headlines Today investigation revealed that several illegal manufacturing units in Mawana town of Meerut district have been churning out extremely dangerous firecrackers.
There is a procedure to follow and there is law that dictates, who can make firecrackers and how and where to carry out the manufacturing. However, close to the national capital these illegal factories have been breaking all rules and guidelines that are there to safeguard life and environment.
Headlines Today inspected some of these factories. A run down house in Sardhana in Delhi's suburb was actually found to be a bustling illegal firecracker factory. The people involved in the illegal business had no problems admitting their crime while talking to Headlines Today.
Headlines Today: We spoke to you yesterday about firecrackers. We need good quality material.
Rehan (owner, illegal firecracker factory): Don't worry. You will be thrilled with what we give you. It is top quality material.
Headlines Today: Do you have a license for making crackers?
Rehan: You don't worry about the license. There's no dearth of explosives.
Not just these people manufacture firecrackers illegally, but they also put fake label of a renowned brand on the packets. That means people would pay good price for these fake crackers.
Sadar Bazaar Traders Association president Pawan Kumar said, "It is difficult to tell the difference, but you must buy from licensed trader."
In fact, it was a big problem for cracker buyers this year as there were less than 500 authorised stalls selling it because the state government has been tight-fisted with the licenses to sell them. Kumar said limited number of licenses has driven up prices of genuine crackers.
Illegal cracker factories in UP employ kids
Illegal factories making unsafe firecrackers in Mawana town of Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district have employed children as young as 10-year-old to work in these deadly factories. Working for a pittance in dangerous conditions, these illegally employed kids work under constant fear of explosions.
Completely ignoring labour laws, the unscrupulous factory owners use children to make firecrackers because they don't need to be paid much. Handling dangerous chemicals and highly inflammable explosives, they work for hours in the most appalling conditions.
In the illegal firecracker manufacturing factories of Sardana and Mavana, children as young as 10-year-old have been risking their lives. Headlines Today spoke to some young workers.
Headlines Today: Shahjib, how many crackers do you make in a day? Do you go to school?
Headlines Today: So you make crackers when you return from school?
Headlines Today: How many crackers do you make in a day?
These poor children work secretly at these makeshift factories. Almost every year fatal accidents take place in these units. In fact, these kids are unaware of the risks involved.
Headlines Today: What is this…explosives?
Headlines Today: Aren't you scared?
Headlines Today: Do you make these crackers?
Girl: Yes. Everybody makes them.
Headlines Today: You know what is inside?
These children, who should be in school, work in these factories as slave for hours without making much. Not only are these children below the age of 18, they have no formal training in producing explosives.
Due to lack of training the quality of these firecrackers is generally very poor and it often causes major accidents. Moreover, these children produce fireworks inside their houses and not factories which clearly shows that their parents were also aware of it.
The authorities have also not done anything to rescue these children. Police were unaware of the whole racket, or at least they feigned total ignorance.
Mawana station officer Dharmendra Kumar Singh said, "When we went for inspection, there was no manufacturing taking place there. Therefore we did not see any minors there."