“Imposing a ban on fireworks not a solution”

Rejecting the suggestion that fireworks units and explosive industries should be banned in the wake of repeated accidents, an inquiry commission that probed the September 5 accident in Sivakasi suggested amendments to the Explosives Act and creation of centres to train unskilled workers in safety measures.

The commission, appointed by the Union Minister of Industry and Commerce Anand Sharma under Section 9 (a) of the Explosives Act, 1884, is likely to submit its report on January 25, sources familiar with the probe said.

Besides studying the causes and procedural lapses that led to the accident, the commission was asked to suggest remedial measures to prevent accidents in the future.

“Human error and negligence on the part of the officials led to the accident in Om Sakthi Fire Works in Mudalipatti near Sivakasi,” the Inquiry Commission has said in its report.

A total of 40 people killed in the accident and equal number of people were injured.

“There are around 700 firework factories functioning in and around Sivakasi and only seven officers (Controller of Explosives) are monitoring them. It is impossible to monitor the situation since the officers have to look after gas and other explosive substances,” according to reports gathered by The Hindu.

The Commission is of the opinion that the Explosives Act framed during colonial times rule was outdated and required amendments to make it more effective. It has also felt that unskilled and untrained workers often became victims of fire accidents as they are unaware of safety aspects.

“Sivakasi is generating employment, revenue and contributing to the nation’s exchequer through export of crackers. So, demanding a ban on fireworks will not be a solution. Instead the firework factories can start training centres to train the workers,” the commission has suggested.

The Commission, headed by Chaithanya Prasad, Controller General of Patents and Designs and Trade Marks, had V.B. Sant, Director-General of National Safety Council, Prof. P. Chandrasekaran, Legal Forensic Expert and Professor, National Law School of India, and Ajay Nigam, retired Chief Controller of Explosives as assessors.

The commission had four sittings and a spot visit at the fireworks factory in Mudalipatti.

It had elaborate discussions with experts in the field of explosives across the country before preparing the report.

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