Strict action against cracker units flouting norms had little deterrent effect in curbing violations, said Dr A P Singh, Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives, Sivakasi. All cracker units, he said, engaged in “some kind of violation”.
His statement came hours after five workers were killed and seven were injured in a blast at a cracker unit in the town on Sunday. Initial investigations had attributed the mishap to have been caused by violations of various norms. Commenting on some jarring violations in the latest incident, Singh said that the workers were making palettes for fireworks in an open space whereas the authorities had advised that this be done only in specially configured rooms in the cracker unit for increased safety. Singh noted that traces of red lead, a substance banned for use in manufacturing crackers, were found at the accident spot. Moreover, four-five cans of cupric oxide, which could have triggered a major explosion, were also recovered from the spot.
Singh regretted the fact that while officials of the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) were working hard by inspecting and framing rules for cracker units, manufacturers and workers rarely followed regulations. He explained that cracker units did not pay attention to precautionary measures set forth by the Explosives Act, 1884 and Explosive Rules, 2008.
He said that officials were working to establish a Fireworks Research and Development Centre. “There are only four PESO officials stationed at Sivakasi, of whom three are in charge of 12 districts. Even with such limited manpower, they are trying to prevent accidents,” he said. He said that the process of appointing more PESO officials was in progress.