Kollam temple pyrotechnics display was conducted despite ban

Fire services had not given permission for the display; banned chemicals found.

Updated - November 28, 2021 12:45 pm IST

Published - April 11, 2016 03:40 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Debris being removed from the fireworks storehouse after the explosion at the Puttingal temple in the coastal town of Paravur in Kollam district on Sunday. Photo C. Suresh Kumar

Debris being removed from the fireworks storehouse after the explosion at the Puttingal temple in the coastal town of Paravur in Kollam district on Sunday. Photo C. Suresh Kumar

The Kerala Fire and Rescue Services had not given clearance for the fireworks display that ended in a massive disaster at the Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam on Sunday.

The Director General, Kerala Fire and Rescue Services, Lokanath Behera visited the site along with senior officials to assess the situation and Director, Technical, E. B. Prasad has been asked to submit a report.

A preliminary investigation at the site by the Fire and Rescue Services has revealed that banned chemicals were used for the pyrotechnics, reportedly for louder crackers.The investigation by the Forensic team will reveal the exact nature of the chemicals used, a senior official, who inspected the site, told The Hindu .

With an increase in the number of fireworks display contests in the State, the authorities are worried about the safety of the people and property, especially where such displays are organised in violation of norms.

“Earlier, there was enough space for organising such displays. But, in the wake of rapid urbanisation, there is little space and houses and commercial establishments crowd places of worship, giving little room [for visitors] to escape in the event of a disaster, like what happened on Sunday,” Mr. Behera said.

The open space shown by the temple organisers while approaching the authorities to obtain sanction for the temple event are mostly occupied by makeshift shops, stage and the crowd that throngs the venue.

“This is true in the case of the [upcoming] Thrissur Pooram as well,” Mr. Behera said.

Collector denied nod The District Collector and later Additional District Magistrate too had denied permission for the pyrotechnics at the site, following an appeal against the Collector’s order.

The Collector had banned the event on a petition filed by senior citizen Pankajakshyamma who lives in the vicinity of the temple. She had sought a ban on pyrotechnics on the ground that they had been causing damage to her house.

The ADM had issued the order banning pyrotechnics after information that the temple committee was planning a competitive pyrotechnic display, “which poses grave threat to the lives and property of people living in the area”. The order said the petitioners had mentioned only fireworks display .

The order also said that the area, where the pyrotechnics were planned, had as many as 11 houses. Incidentally, the owners of these houses had not endorsed the event.

A report submitted to the ADM by the Paravur police said the temple committee had to identify an isolated location for holding the fireworks display.

(With inputs from Ignatius Pereira)

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