Panel that probed Virudhunagar cracker blast suggests training workers, strengthening regulatory bodies

Published - April 30, 2024 08:03 pm IST - Chennai

10 people died in the cracker unit blast in February 2024.

10 people died in the cracker unit blast in February 2024.

A joint committee formed by the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal to probe the Virudhunagar cracker unit blast, which claimed the lives of 10 persons in February 2024, has suggested mandating certification for workers handling hazardous tasks. 

After site inspections and reviews, the committee comprising M. Sivakumar, Revenue Divisional Officer, Sattur; H.D. Varalaxmi, Regional Director, Central Pollution Control Board; M. Vijayalakshmi, Joint Chief Environmental Engineer, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board; E. Arockia Lenin, Scientist D, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, observed that despite having adequate guidelines and safety norms by Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), at least three to four accidents are happening a year. 

Noting that repeated accidents in firework units indicate the lack of implementation and monitoring mechanism, the committee recommended a slew of administrative and technical measures including strict vigilance of firecracker sheds, permanent closure of sheds that have in the past been found guilty of safety breaches, heavy fines on violators, increased automation to avoid physical handling of dangerous chemicals.

The committee suggested that workers engaged in hazardous operations such as mixing, filling of chemicals must be certified after training and only those with certifications be employed. The panel also said that the existing workforce of regulatory authorities such as PESO and Directorate Of Industrial Safety & Health be strengthened by the Centre and State governments respectively to have regular monitoring and ensure better compliance.

The service of an accredited pyro professional must be sought to assess the adequateness of buildings and structure for safe operations against frictions, impact and static electricity and of safe process flow in mixing and handling of pyro chemicals, the panel recommended.

Manufacturers and firecracker unit licensees must submit a compliance report once in six months or on a quarterly basis and it must be uploaded publicly on the website of the respective regulatory agency, it said.

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