Kerala calls all-party meet on firecracker ban

Alappuzha (Kerala), April 12 (IANS) In the wake of the Puttingal temple blast, the Kerala government has called an all-party meeting on Thursday to see if a consensus is possible on total or partial ban on firecrackers, a minister said.

“The things that will be taken up for discussion includes finding out if a total ban is possible,” Kerala’s Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told reporters here on Tuesday, referring to the all party meeting to be held on April 14 in state capital Thiruvanthapuram.

An illegal fireworks display on Sunday set off massive explosions and fire at Puttingal temple in Kollam district of the state, leaving 109 people dead and more than 350 people injured.

“There have been opinions that fireworks display which gives more significance to the visual treats should be taken up and sound levels of crackers to be brought to the minimum levels, like what happens in UAE and Singapore,” said Chennithala.

The police has been asked to conduct raids across the state to seize explosive materials that are possessed either illegally or in excess of permitted quantities, he said.

“With Vishu festival round the corner, the police has been asked to ensure that proper checks and balances are adhered to according to the licence (to possess explosives) given,” added Chennithala.

He said the ongoing judicial probe and crime branch probe into the temple blast would be completed at the earliest and suitable action would be taken.

State BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran said that a total ban on firecrackers may not be feasible.

“What needs to be done is 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.

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