Kerala HC bans noisy fireworks after sunset

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday banned high-decibel firework displays between sunset and sunrise.

It directed the state government to enforce existing guidelines under the Explosive Substances Act for pyrotechnic shows held during the day.

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A division bench comprising judges Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Anu Sivaraman was considering a letter by judge V Chitambaresh as a PIL seeking ban on firework displays in the wake of the Puttingal Temple tragedy that killed 111 people. The court is expected to issue the interim order in its entirety after it resumes hearing on the case, in a special sitting, on Thursday.

The Supreme Court, through a 2001 directive, has banned bursting of firecrackers between 10 pm and 6 am. Restrictions stipulated through provisions under the Explosive Substances Act have often been found wanting in ensuring adherence during religious festivals.

With the HC intervention, the focus is back on the continuing non-compliance to guidelines which apply to all firework shows, especially shows between 6 pm and 6 am. The interim order will also be crucial as it would come only three days ahead of Thrissur Pooram, one of Kerala’s most prominent temple festivals with its own, hugely popular, firework show.

The High Court bench has ordered measures to ensure that the pyrotechnic shows follow a less-sound, more-colour model. The Explosives Rules of 2008 classify sound-emitting fireworks as fireworks with sound level not exceeding 125 decibels (AI) or 145 decibels (C) pk at four metres distance from the point of bursting (AI and C pk denote classifications of sound pressure levels).

The court came down heavily on the local police for having failed to prevent the firework contest using extremely powerful explosives even after the district administration had denied permission to organise a competitive firework show at the temple.

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