Kerala wants fireworks tragedy termed calamity

Loss estimated at Rs. 118 crore.

April 18, 2016 12:31 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:22 pm IST - KOCHI:

Days after the Puttingal tragedy, Thrissur Pooram was conducted in full splendour on Sunday. —Photo: K.K. Najeeb

Days after the Puttingal tragedy, Thrissur Pooram was conducted in full splendour on Sunday. —Photo: K.K. Najeeb

Kerala will call upon the Centre to declare the > Puttingal fireworks accident a national calamity and provide substantial financial assistance to it for compensation, relief and rehabilitation, taking into account the huge loss of life and property and disabilities caused, official sources said here on Sunday.

The State Disaster Management authorities have estimated that 1,090 people suffered injuries of various degrees in the accident, which claimed 107 lives. Even a week after the incident, as many as 411 people are undergoing treatment in 24 hospitals, and several are in a critical condition. The financial loss is estimated at Rs. 118 crore.

The State government will also request the Centre to consider the accident as the “rarest of the rare”, where the largest number of casualties occurred in a single disaster after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It is also feared that some survivors will require prolonged treatment. Permanent and partial disabilities are expected to surface in a large number of cases. Experts have suggested a long-term rehabilitation plan including psycho-social care for the affected.

The explosion caused during the fireworks display at the temple complex near Kollam last week disrupted the entire power supply network in the area, and as many as 100 minor poles and two transformers were damaged. The high-decibel explosion damaged 1,993 houses in the vicinity of the temple. These include 100 houses that were severely damaged and 409 that suffered partial damage. The total loss in the sector is estimated at Rs.40 crore.

The accident also affected agriculture in 343 hectares, resulting in a loss of Rs.1.5 crore. The affected areas will require long-term decontamination measures to remove heavy metal and toxic substances from soil and water. A rapid assessment of the areas indicated that the debris was strewn across 343 hectares. Experts from the Kerala State Pollution Control Board have estimated that around 200 open wells in the area were contaminated or damaged in the accident. Since it is peak summer, as many as 15 tankers with a capacity of 10,000 litres each are being operated to supply safe drinking water in the region, and it costs Rs.15,000 a trip. The arrangement will have to continue for another 50 days till the monsoon sets in.

The State has also sought waiver of all expenses incurred on the services rendered by the Central forces.

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