Thripunithura cracker unit explosion: No lessons learnt from the past

February 12, 2024 08:56 pm | Updated 08:57 pm IST - KOCHI

Locals and rescue workers at the site of the explosion at at a firecracker storage unit at Choorakkadu in Thripunithura on Monday.

Locals and rescue workers at the site of the explosion at at a firecracker storage unit at Choorakkadu in Thripunithura on Monday. | Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

The tragedy at Thripunithura following the blast at an illegal firecracker storage unit in connection with a temple festival on February 12 has once again exposed the blatant violation of safety norms.

The temple authorities and the enforcement authorities seem to have not learnt lessons from similar tragedies earlier. It was almost a year ago that Ernakulam witnessed a major tragedy after an explosion at an ill-fated firecracker storage unit, which was operated out of a house at Muttinakam in Varapuzha, killed one person and injured seven others, including three children, on February 28, 2023.

The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) had then found that the unauthorised unit was functioning without its approval, which is given only after getting the approval of the District Magistrate. The blast at the temporary storage building in Choorakadu as part of the temple festival is a classic case of an illegal act as per the norms prescribed under the Explosives Rules. The temple authorities should have sought permission from the District Collector in his capacity as the District Magistrate to conduct the display of fireworks.

Though rules stipulated that the District Magistrate could recommend to the PESO to grant licence for a building or structure for storage of firecrackers, it will be given only after carrying out proper risk assessment and site inspection. The District Magistrate and the enforcement agencies will not be able to give their nod for storage or possession of firecrackers or explosives in a thickly-populated area like the site of the blast.

Senior officials of the PESO reminded that the rules clearly pointed out the need to ensure proper handling of the explosives or raw materials used for manufacturing of the firecrackers. No person shall handle or cause to be handled any explosive between the hours of sunset and sunrise. All operations associated with handling of explosives must be carried out under the supervision of a competent person.

The lapses on the part of the police were also evident as a display of fireworks at the temple was held on Sunday without the mandatory approval of the District Magistrate. Though a case was registered against the Thekkumpuram Karayogam that organised the display, no directive was issued to the Vadakkumpuram Karayogam responsible for the conduct of the display of fireworks on Monday.

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