K.P.M. Basheer

Decentralisation and simplification of explosives rules

New Central rules to take effect

from April 1

Use of ‘kathina’ needs licence from Collector

KOCHI: Starting with the upcoming festival season in the State, the authority to give permission for fireworks display at temples and churches will be with Collectors and not with the explosives controller of the Central government.

This follows the coming into force of the Central government’s new explosives rules, which provide an elaborate framework for the use, storage, manufacture and sale of explosives.

The Explosives Rules 2008, which replaced the Explosives Rules 1983, technically took effect on December 29, 2008.

However, for the sake of a smooth transition of the regulatory mechanism, the operation of the rules in terms of temple and church festivals will take effect from April 1. C.R. Surendranathan, deputy chief controller of explosives, told The Hindu that he had written to all Collectors informing them of the new regulation scheme.

Rules

According to the rules, District Magistrates (Collectors in Kerala) will issue the “licence to possess and use of fireworks for public display.” As of now the controller of explosives, whose office is located in Kochi, issues the licence.

The festival committees can apply for the permission to the Collector in the prescribed form with a fee of Rs.500 per display and the permission will be valid for a month.

People-friendly

“The new regulation scheme is people-friendly as festival functionaries need not have to travel all the way to Kochi for the permission; they can get it from their respective district administrations,” said Venugopal R., controller of explosives, Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO), Kochi. This was part of the decentralisation and simplification of explosives rules, he pointed out.

The rules have reduced the distance between the spectators and the display venue to 100 metres from the present 200 metres.

However, the rules have brought the use of ‘kathinas’ (‘adirvettu’ in Tamil) under the licensing system.

The thunder of ‘kathina vedi’ is an essential part of temple festivals in Kerala and there has been no government restriction on the use of ‘kathinas’ for religious festivals.

The new rules make it mandatory for temple and church authorities to secure a licence from the Collector for the use of ‘kathinas’ at festivals and for prayer offers such as `vedi vazhipaadu’ at temples and churches. This is to check the misuse and reduce hazard risks.

Quantity

The rules say that the District Magistrate will issue the “licence to possess gunpowder not exceeding 15 kg at any one time for manufacture of ‘adirverttus’ and possession of ‘adirverttus’ not exceeding 200 in number at any one time.” In effect, it will be the ADM (Additional District Magistrate) who will be responsible for administering the licensing system.

The licence fee for using ‘kathinas’ for a year will be Rs.1,000 and the licence can be renewed every year for five years.

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