Govt comes down hard on explosive use in firework displays: Nirmala Sitharaman

New delhi: The Centre today tightened the use of explosives during firework displays to prevent any recurrence of tragedy at the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi temple at Paravoor in Kerala, which had claimed 114 lives. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will ensure strict compliance of the Explosive Rules, 2008, by district administrations in Kerala.

She said that to prevent such incidents in future, there is an urgent need of tightening of enforcement of the Explosives Rules, 2008, by district authorities.

However, she added that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which deals in the explosives sector, has simplified the process to take licences for the purpose. “There will be no display of fireworks without licence,” she said.

A recent accident during display of fireworks at Paravoor, Kerala, has thrown up several discrepancies such as lack of effective enforcement of the Explosive Rules, 2008, on the part of the district administration.

There was also discrepancy in the use of unauthorised fireworks like Amittus, Kuzhiminnal, Palm leaf crackers, multi-shots, use of unauthorised chemicals such as potassium chlorate in fireworks, unauthorised storage of fireworks at a public display site and non-adherence of prescribed safety distances between the display site and spectators.

She said the district magistrate’s office will be the single window for granting licences under the rules for public display of fireworks.

Applications for licence for public display of fireworks will be submitted to the magistrate’s office two months prior to the scheduled date of display and if approved, permission will be granted at least one month prior to the display date.

She also said only authorised fireworks approved by the Chief Controller of Explosives will be used for public display. The minister said there “is no change in the existing rules” and these points are only clarificatory in nature.

Sitharaman said that as there are several local firework manufacturers in Kerala, the makers would apply to Chief Controller of Explosives, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), Nagpur.

PESO will approve the fireworks within 10 days and after submission of the samples, the authorisation will be accorded within 30 days. Storage licences to store fireworks, if required, near the display site shall be taken from the Office of Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, PESO, at Ernakulam.

The minister also said the district magistrate should ascertain that the 100-metre safety distance between the firework display site and spectators and 250 metres from hospitals, schools and nursing homes will be strictly complied with.

Barricading should be provided at 100 meters around the display site to prevent entry of the general public in the display area.