During Deepavali, other retailers will not be allowed in order to ensure public safety, says fire and rescue services dept.

The Tamil Nadu fire and rescue services department has made it clear that following last year’s practice cracker shops alone will be permitted at Island Grounds during Deepavali.

A communication from the department was produced before the First Bench of the Madras High Court comprising the Acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan when a writ petition came up for hearing.

The petitioner, K.R. Ramaswamy alias ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, a social activist, said during festive seasons such as Deepavali and New Year’s Day, authorities were arranging a mela at Island Grounds. Apart from cracker shops, wholesale and retail sellers of sweets, as well as food stalls and amusement parks were being permitted.

This would invite larger crowds and their safety would be compromised, he said.

The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation has issued a tender on September 5 calling for vendors to take part in the ‘Mega Diwali Fair 2013’ and sell crackers, garments and sweets from mid-October to the first week of November.

Mr. Ramaswamy alleged the approach of the authorities appeared to be very casual. The petitioner asked the court to quash the tender notice and direct the authorities to permit the sale of crackers alone at the venue in the interest of public safety.

In the communication, the fire service department said last year, only cracker shops were permitted at the Island Grounds. If garment sellers and sweet stalls were also allowed, a larger crowd, including children, would assemble at the venue. Their safety had to be considered in the event of any mishap, the communication stated.

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