Petitioner ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy said the firecracker shops functioned on narrow streets in George Town

The Madras High Court has directed the joint director of explosives to inspect wholesale firecracker shops in the George Town area.

The official has been asked to investigate if the licensees were strictly complying with the licence conditions and file a report before the court.

The official must also check if necessary infrastructure was available on the premises.

A division bench comprising Justices R. Banumathi and T.S. Sivagnanam passed the interim order on a public interest petition by K.R. Ramaswamy alias ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy.

The petitioner said wholesale firecracker shops functioned in the narrow stretches of Bunder Street, Badrian Street, Malayaperumal Street, Anderson Street and Umpherson Street and NSC Bose Road. In the same area, there were also stationery shops.

He said the authorities and shop owners violated the Explosives Rules. Licences were being renewed mechanically. The shop owners also sold other inflammable items. The Chennai Corporation never bothered to verify if the shop owners were following rules.

From last year, temporary licences were being given for the sale of firecrackers on Island Grounds but wholesale dealers continue to function on narrow streets in the city.

Mr. Ramaswamy said during Diwali and New Year, the authorities could arrange a mela on Island Grounds where wholesalers and retailers could be allotted temporary sheds.

He sent a representation to the authorities in December 2011 requesting them to shift wholesale shops to Island Grounds during the festive season, but it was not considered.

He requested the court for a direction to the authorities in this regard. When the matter came up for hearing, a notice was taken on behalf of wholesale dealers for filing counter.

The Bench said the matter would be taken up after three weeks. In the meanwhile, the explosives official should make the inspection and file a report, it said.

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