Tamil Nadu stone quarry flouted government norms, breached safety protocol: Officials

On Wednesday, a blast occurred at a private explosives storage warehouse near the quarry when explosives were being unloaded from a van, killing three workers.
Video screengrab shows the blast at the site of the explosion at the stone quarry in Kariapatti.
Video screengrab shows the blast at the site of the explosion at the stone quarry in Kariapatti.

VIRUDHUNAGAR: A preliminary assessment of the stone quarry in Kadamangulam, where an explosion at the quarry’s warehouse on Wednesday killed three workers, revealed that there were breaches of safety protocol and flouting of government norms by the operators. The site was inspected by officials of the department of geology and mines.

On Wednesday, a blast occurred at a private explosives storage warehouse near the quarry when explosives were being unloaded from a van, killing three workers. Following District Collector VP Jeyaseelan’s instructions, officials inspected the site on Thursday. They found that neither fences were erected, nor a safety distance maintained to protect the adjoining patta lands and the waterbody.

“Based on the inspection, a report will be submitted to the collector. A detailed survey will be carried out soon to find out if any unauthorised explosives were used or not” said Thangamuniyasamy, deputy director of geology and mines department.

According to the FIR, workers dealing with the explosives at the warehouse were not given any safety gear, and neither was any official present to monitor the unloading of the explosives. “Despite being aware of the possibility of an explosion when a van with a nitrate mixture and another with an electric detonator are parked nearby and loading and unloading is carried out, both the vans were parked nearby,” the report stated.

Locals, who live within a kilometre’s radius from the quarry, alleged that the explosives were illegally hoarded in the warehouse, and that the quarry used to operate beyond the time set by the government.

The Aviyur police have booked Rajkumar, Ramji, Ramamoorthy, and Sethu — all four licence holders of the quarry and warehouse — under sections 286, 304 (ii) of the IPC r/w 9(B)(1)(b) of the Explosives Act. While Sethu and Rajkumar were remanded in judicial custody on Thursday, Ramji and Ramamoorthy are at large.

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