Kollam fire tragedy: Kerala HC bans noisy firecrackers at night in places of worship

Merely two days after a massive fire at a temple in Kerala sent shockwaves through the country, authorities have made an attempt to regulate the use of fireworks at public events.

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday has banned sound-making fireworks display in all places of worship in state between sunset and sunrise, PTI reported

The court asked the state government to examine whether a CBI probe is necessary into the Paravur Puttingal Devi temple fireworks display tragedy on Sunday.

Treating a judge's letter seeking a ban as a PIL, the bench of Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Anu Sivaraman banned the use of sound-generating fireworks between sunset and sunrise across places of worship.

It, said that during day time, the sound of explosives cannot exceed the permitted limit.

The court directed police and other authorities to enforce compliance of the provisions of Explosives Act and Rules to prevent such tragedies.

However, the first repercussions of the incident were seen in Uttar Pradesh. On Monday, the UP government announced a ban on fireworks at any event in Lucknow, in light of the tragic fire that occurred at Kollam, which killed at least 116 people, reported CNN-IBN.

At least 380 people were injured in the massive explosion set off by the illegal fireworks show which occurred at the Puttingal temple in the night. The local authorities had denied permission for the fireworks.

Public safety standards and weak governance were in the spotlight following the tragic events.

According to IANS, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said that in the wake of the Puttingal temple blast, the Kerala government had called an all-party meeting on Thursday to see if a consensus was possible on total or partial ban on firecrackers.

"The things that will be taken up for discussion includes finding out if a total ban is possible," Chennithala told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the all party meeting to be held on 14 April in the state capital Thiruvanthapuram.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Chennithala also said that sound levels of firecrackers should be brought to minimum levels, like in UAE and Singapore.

But a total ban on firecrackers may not be feasible, according to Kerala BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran.

"What needs to be done is that proper mechanisms should be put in place. One can work out a proper safety audit mechanism on how such things can go forward," Rajasekheran told reporters.

Despite the Kollam tragedy, state authorities do not appear to have learnt any lessons since they are planning on going ahead with the annual fireworks festival Thrissur Pooram.

According to a report by Firstpost, the fireworks display at the Thrissur Pooram would be staged as usual despite protests from traditionalists and residents. But the authorities assured the residents that all precautions will be taken and restrictions would be placed during the display.

The Thrissur Pooram is a tourist attraction, and is an important event for devotees. For years, pyrotechnics have been a part of the Pooram, one of the biggest annual spectacles in Kerala.

On Monday, Thrissur District Collector V Ratheesan held talks with members of Pooram Coordination Committee before granting permission to hold the fireworks display.

The firework show which is organised annually on a competitive basis between Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples has a mandate that no party should use more than 2000 kg of explosives.

The authorities claim the locals seek the fanfare and the political and cultural leaders cannot ignore the demand. The popularity of the event is also at stake.

The state has seen various fireworks related tragedies in the past. About 40 fireworks related accidents have occurred during the last 50 years. This has still not deterred festival organizers, temple authorities or politicians from holding such events.

However, the tide appears to be turning. Many leaders are now seeking a ban on fireworks at places of worship. Congress leader AK Antony, who hails from Kerala has called for a rethinking on the issue.

As per the Firstpost report mentioned above, two prominent community leaders, G Sukumaran Nair of Nair Service Society and Vellappally Natesan of SNDP Yogam (Sri Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, an influential religious group) have called for restraint.

The patron of Tantri Vidya Peedam Akeeramon Kalidasan Bhattathiripad is reported to have said that a temple should not be a venue for competitive fireworks.

Swami Prakashanda of Sivagiri Mutt also spoke up on the issue against fireworks in temples.

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Updated Date: Apr 12, 2016 18:57:50 IST

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