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Updated: September 26, 2013 03:14 IST

Violations galore at cracker unit

S. Sundar
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Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives R. Venugopal inspecting the three bags of potassium chlorate at the unit near Madurai on Wednesday. Photo: R. Ashok
The Hindu
Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives R. Venugopal inspecting the three bags of potassium chlorate at the unit near Madurai on Wednesday. Photo: R. Ashok

Factory had more number of workers and sheds than permitted

From flawed design of factory sheds to manufacturing unauthorised cracker goods, the cracker unit near Chekkanoorani, where a fire accident claimed the lives of four employees on Tuesday, had blatantly violated safety norms for the fireworks units.

An inspection of the unit by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation on Wednesday revealed that were other violations of safety norms under the Explosives Rules 2008 than the mixing of chemicals under tree shade that led to a deafening blast in which 18 persons were injured.

The Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives (in-charge), R. Venugopal and Deputy Controller of Explosives Sheik Hussain conducted a thorough inspection of the V.B.M. Anandam fireworks unit.

As against the norms of only three working sheds permitted for the factory, licensed by the District Revenue Officer, this unit had 12 working sheds, Mr. Venugopal told The Hindu.

Besides, the factory that was given licence in 2002 did not have the mandatory magazine room meant for stocking finished goods. While not more than 10 employees were permitted on the premises, the very fact that 22 persons were injured showed that the unit had employed more workers.

Electricity

Only the office rooms which are located far away from the working sheds are allowed to have electricity connection. However, at this factory, one of the small sheds located in close quarters to four working sheds had power connection.

The unit has been licensed to manufacture only chorsa (crackers of smaller size in series), flower pots, chakra and ‘mini atom bombs’. However, the officials found that bigger firecrackers, including rockets and string crackers containing 5,000 and 10,000 pieces, large-sized ‘atom bombs’ were being produced on the factory premises.

Plastic shells, which are banned, too were used in the units. Paper tubes of bigger sizes that are used for multi-shot crackers were also found on the premises. “Such fancy crackers are permitted only in those units that are given licence by PESO,” Mr. Venugopal said.

Minimum distance

The norms of maintaining minimum distance of 10 metres between working sheds were violated. “The minimum distance was as less as three metres in some cases,” he said.

Similarly, while the working sheds needed to have doors (openings) on both sides, few sheds had doors on only one side. The doors of adjacent working sheds should not face each other to prevent spark from one shed triggering fire in the other shed. “We find the working sheds facing each other. There is no structure in-between them,” he added.

The rules clearly stated that no material that could pose a potential obstruction for free movement of workers and transportation of chemicals to and from the working sheds, but the owner allowed additional shelters with asbestos sheets outside many working sheds.

“It looks like the materials were stocked inside the working sheds and people were working sitting in the open area under the extended structures,” Mr. Venugopal said.

The units had to maintain a vacant land of minimum of 45 metres inside the fencing. But, here the distance was less than four metres.

We are a civil disobedient society. We are stuck in the struggle to freedom mode. The only difference is the we fighting against greed at the expense of self preservation. Swift action from the government authorities should be lauded albeit without political affiliations. Hope more such surprise raids be carried our so that everyone can celebrate a happy Deepavalli.

from:  antony
Posted on: Sep 26, 2013 at 06:33 IST

26092013 In our engineering career we used to say in Safety Engineering " Accidents never happen, but are caused". This statement is very correct and only accidents which happen due to nature are rain havoc, floods, earth quake etc which are uncontrollable.This can be verified in a number of instances. In this particular case of cracker unit, my questions are whether the ubit is registered?. If registered was it not the responsibility of the Tamil Nadu factory Act to get inspected by their inspectors and suggest improvements and if failed close the factory by order?. It is observed in a number of cases Factory Safety Inspectors come for inspection to collect bribe rather than inspection and if bribe is not given, they will issue closing orders and harass. This is a fit case for detailed invetigation. B S GANESH ganeshbangalore@ymail.com

from:  Ganesh Bangalore
Posted on: Sep 26, 2013 at 03:06 IST
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