BARPETA, Oct 17 � In contrast to the abundance of imported lights and crackers elsewhere in the State, Barpeta is all set to celebrate Diwali with indigenously-made fireworks. As the festival of lights approaches, the local artisans are busy making fireworks in their tiny industrial units. Though their number is less, the artisans are determined to cater to the demand of the local market. Some are even prepared to export their products outside the State.
As far as quality and aesthetics are concerned, the fireworks made in Barpeta are superior to most of the products brought from several parts of the country. These fireworks can meet the competition in terms of both light and sound. The prices are also competitive. However, the production of the fireworks is limited, which remains a hindrance with regard to capturing a bigger market.
The fireworks industry in Barpeta has its own history and glory. Fireworks have been produced here for a long time and for many families, it is a hereditary business. Instead of using modern machinery, the artisans work with their hands to create attractive items of fireworks. Lately, they have been facing a stiff challenge as the demand for products from outside rises. However, the artisans here are committed to keeping alive their indigenous industry in spite of all the odds.
Meanwhile, the markets at Howly, Barpeta Road, Sarthebari and even Barpeta have been flooded with fireworks imported from China and some other parts of the country including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. There are allegations that most of these products have been brought in by avoiding taxes, thereby causing a huge loss of revenue to the State exchequer. Some unscrupulous traders have not been following the requisite norms while packaging the fireworks and have avoided mentioning the date of production or the price on the packets. Despite this, the authorities concerned have not intervened in this matter. The skyrocketing prices of fireworks have put off Diwali revellers on the one hand and the tax evasion by some unscrupulous businessmen has affected the economy on the other.
At the time of the holy festival, some parts of Barpeta district also witness a surge in gambling activities. In certain areas, especially in the eastern parts of the district, gambling takes place on a large scale. The gambling activities continue for a long period of time, bringing doom to some of those indulging in them. The social environment is vitiated by such activities, conscious citizens here said, adding that the authorities concerned should take strict measures to check the menace.