Kollam tragedy: Kerala govt won't support total ban on firecrackers, says CM Chandy

An all party meet in Kerala, held in the backdrop of the Kollam tragedy, on Thursday decided not to impose a total ban on fireworks display during festivities but advocated adherence to strict controls and checks and avoiding high-decibel crackers.

The meet was called by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to discuss whether or not to ban fireworks display during festivities in places of worship in the aftermath of the 10 April Puttingal Devi Temple fireworks tragedy at Kollam which left 114 people dead and more than 350 injured.

"It was not a ban on fireworks that was necessary, but a strict control and checks during its display was the opinion which emerged at the all party meet," Chandy told reporters.

The meet suggested avoiding high decibel crackers and instead encourage colourful low-intensity fireworks, he said.

However, the Chief Minister said under no circumstances competitive fireworks would be allowed and warned of stern action against those indulging in such acts.

On the demand for a CBI probe into the tragedy, Chandy said the government has an open mind on the matter.

While banning high-decibel crackers, the Kerala High Court had on 12 April asked the state government to examine whether a CBI probe is necessary to go into the temple tragedy.

A file photo of Oomen Chandy. AFP

A file photo of Oomen Chandy. AFP

Chandy said the meeting was of the opinion that as the Crime Branch probe was progressing, it can continue under court's supervision.

"If in the course of time, the court wants a probe by any other agency, including CBI, the government is ready to co-operate," he added.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who was also present, said directions had been given to raid illegal cracker units and godowns storing fireworks in excess of the quantity sanctioned.

Similarly, stern action would be taken if banned chemical mix were found used for making crackers, he added.

To a question on growing demand for a total ban on fireworks display in the wake of Puttingal temple tragedy, Chennithala said "We cannot ban fireworks. But, it would be allowed with control.

"The present laws are sufficient to ensure a strict control the fireworks. It has to be implemented strictly and
that we will ensure," Chennithala added.

On the Home Secretary's recommendation for action against Kollam City police Commissioner and two other police officials, Chennithala said the government had forwarded the Secretary's report to the DGP T P Senkumar for opinion.

"The government will take necessary action after getting the opinion of the DGP," he added.

Meanwhile, a three-member committee of state Ministers visited the Paravoor accident site for an on-the-spot inspection to assess the damage caused there and review the steps taken for rehabilitation of victims.

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, Labour Minister Shibu Baby John and Health Minister V S Sivakumar are the members of the committee.

Prakash later told reporters that the local people said the government should ensure that their damaged houses were repaired before the onset of the monsoon.

The government would take steps in this regard, he said.

Meanwhile, according to The Times of India report, the Kerala Dewasom Board had refused to ban firecrackers at any of the over 1,200 temples it controls.

On Thursday the Kerala HC gave the conditional nod for the Thrissur Poorum event. According to CNN IBN, the court said that there should be a restriction on high decibel fireworks. But they banned the use of certain chemicals in fireworks.

The Kerala Home Minister said that they will ensure all norms are followed for the Thrissur event.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Apr 15, 2016 16:10:43 IST

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