Kerala to set up fund for temple disaster victims

Thiruvananthapuram, April 14 (IANS) The Kerala government on Thursday said that a blanket ban on events associated with religious institutions was not practical but enforcement of rules will be strengthened while a separate fund will be set up for long-term needs of of the Kollam disaster victims.

The decisions were taken at an all-party meeting called to discuss the tragedy at the Puttingal Devi temple at Paravur town in Kollam which left at least 114 dead and 350 injured.

“It is now become a reality that those who have suffered injuries will take a long time to get back to normal life and to come to their support, the Kerala government will set up a separate fund for it. We call upon all to contribute generously to the fund,” Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told reporters here after the all-party meeting.

He said that the general consensus at the meeting was to that bringing a blanket ban on events associated with religious institutions was not a practical one.

“At the moment itself, there are rules and regulations that are there on how to go about such events. The meeting wanted from now on, the enforcing of the law should be taken up with utmost seriousness and rules will not be given the go-by,” said Chandy.

All top leaders of the various political parties took part in the 90-minute meeting, where it also decided to see that the celebration of the upcoming Thrissur Pooram – considered to be the mother of all festivals in the state be given sanction but with adequate checks and balances.

“The Thrissur Pooram is part of the state’s culture and showpiece event and it just cannot be banned, but it can be staged by following all the rules and regulations that are in place,” said state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala.

Chandy said the next cabinet meeting on Wednesday will take up the report of the three-member committee of ministers who visited the temple site and its surrounding areas, will submit on the damage that has been caused to properties and agricultural crops in the area, for appropriate action by the cabinet.

The all party meeting also decided to ask the central government to declare the Kollam tragedy as a national disaster.

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