THRISSUR,Kerala: Despite having proper laws o prevent the use of high-decibel fireworks in temple festivals blatant violation of rule is continuing in the state. It is being done in connivance with the authorities, who twist and turn laws to accommodate the wishes of temple authorities, says Thrissur-based Public Interest Forum. The Forum had filed several cases in various courts to discourage the trend without any success.
V K Venkitachalam, secretary of the Public Interest Forum, says that despite a blanket ban imposed by the Supreme Court in 2002, the use of dynamites and ‘gundu’ continues unabatedly in most of the temples. Explosives above the sound level of 125 decibels were banned but they continue to proliferate as the monitoring was very poor, he said. The district authorities have to test the samples before issuing a licence for fireworks display in temples.
The testing of dynamites and ‘gundu’ does not arise as the manufacturing of such crackers is illegal, Venikatachalam said. For the fireworks below the sound level of 125 decibels the samples have to be taken to the Departmental Testing Station at Nagpur, according to the report of the Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, based in Kochi. The law also says that the sub-surface fireworks are illegal. In temple festivals 75 percent of their high decibel crackers are exploded, lighted below the surface, Venikatachalam said.
Meanwhile, a letter written by the member-secretary of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board says that at present there is no standard or tolerance limit for sound from fireworks. The board is only thinking of monitoring fireworks and develop data for possible evolution of standard. Veniktachalam says that the board is also turning a blind eye to the Supreme Court judgment which imposed a ban on the mixture of chlorate with potassium, which is used for high-decibel crackers.
The forum also sourced a sanction letter to this paper, issued by the Additional District Magistrate of Thrissur to a temple. The letter itself displays the attitude of the authorities towards the life and property of the citizens. The no-objection certificate mentions that no firework display shall be done after 10 PM till 6 AM.
The forum says that the display of fireworks in temples is only done during the night especially after 10 PM. The certificate also mentions that people and movable objects in the vicinity have to be evacuated up to a distance of 200 metres. Any loss of life or damage to property within 200 metres will not be liable for compensation. The temple authorities need to get the approval of the people staying around the temple for obtaining a sanction. The forum has compiled a data of fireworks-related cases in the state. According to the data, 52 people died in the state in the year 2005 while 28 people suffered permanent disability due to accidents from fireworks.