BALASORE: Frequent mishaps on the seashore due to accidental explosion of shells fired by the defence personnel from a test range here have prompted the authorities of Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE), a unit of DRDO, to go for intensive campaigning in seaside villages in the district.
On Thursday, a youth was killed when the splinters of a shell fired from the PXE hit him in the Bay of Bengal, where he was reportedly catching fish. The youth’s body was found inside the prohibited area of the defence establishment.
Defence sources said every year two-three such incidents are reported from the prohibited area. Though people do not die in all cases, they sustain grievous injuries. One major mishap had occurred on July 26, 2002 when eight civilians died in the live shell explosion while they were trying to extract metal from the shell.
The PXE, an oldest establishment of DRDO has the world’s best range facilities for the test of arms and ammunitions. The acquired range of PXE, which came into existence in 1895, is 19.5 km in length and three km in width. On an average, 20,000 rounds are fired in a year from the range.
PXE Director R Appavuraj said the entire range spreading over the seashore has been notified as prohibited area where entry of outsiders is restricted.
“We also intimate the timing of firing to the local administration and people’s representatives. But unfortunately, such incidents occur as people enter the restricted area to extract metals from the shell debris,” he said.
As such incidents are happening despite the ban, the Director said an intensive awareness campaign with the help of local administration in the seaside villages needs to be initiated.
“We would urge the administration to once again make people aware about the firing time and the vulnerability attached to it. The local PRI members can also be roped in,” he said.
Appavuraj warned people not to enter the prohibited area during firing period. It is not possible to enclose the range with fence and possibility of a shell getting lost may be there despite efforts to collect all shells after the test firing, he added.