Dragon Fire may have Caused Kol­lam Tragedy

Ex­plo­sives smug­gled in via sea from China, may have con­tained ma­te­rial pro­hib­ited for use in fire crack­ers

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: There could be a ‘Chi­nese hand’ in the Kol­lam tem­ple tragedy. The Cen­tre is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the source of the ex­plo­sives and crack­ers used for the fire­works dur­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties amid in­di­ca­tions that they could have been smug­gled through the sea route from Chi­nese shores and may con­tain ma­te­rial pro­hib­ited for use in fire crack­ers. The com­merce min­istry has asked the De­part­ment of In­dus­trial Pol­icy and Pro­mo­tion to send a team to Kol­lam’s Par­avoor, where fire­works at the fes­tiv­i­ties at the Put­tin­gal Devi tem­ple went out of con­trol kill- ing 113 in the wee hours of April 10. A source said that the com­merce min­istry dis­patched a team to the

A NA­TIONAL CALAMITY

spot hours af­ter the in­ci­dent. On Tues­day, the min­istry de­cided to send a high-level team from New Delhi as the is­sue needed to be probed thor­oughly. With fire­crack­ers from Sivakasi not al­lowed into Kol­lam for the an­nual event, the sus­pi­cion is that the or­gan­is­ers may have sourced them from Chi­nese smug­glers.

“These ex­plo­sives were clearly not made in Sivakasi. There are in­di­ca­tions that they were smug­gled via sea route from China, months in ad­vance. The modus operandi is to hide these ex­plo­sives in car­tons in be­tween other stuff and they pass through scan­ners un­de­tected at the ports,” a se­nior of­fi­cial said. The con­nivance of port au­thor­i­ties is also not be­ing ruled out.

The ma­te­rial used in the fire­crack­ers ap­pear to be pro­hib­ited and could have caused a big­ger tragedy that what hap­pened. The ad­min­is­tra­tion had de­nied per­mis­sion for fire­works at the tem­ple. Three cars full of ex­plo­sives were seized a day af­ter the tragedy. Other un­used ex­plo­sives from the spot are also likely to be ex­am­ined. The trail from the lo­cal level to the ports and be­yond will also be ex­am­ined. Ker­ala chief min­is­ter Oom­men Chandy chaired a meet­ing of his Cab­i­net on Wed­nes­day, where a de­ci­sion was taken to re­quest the Cen­tre to de­clare the in­ci­dent as a na­tional calamity as it had claimed 113 lives. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Congress vice-pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi had vis­ited the spot soon af­ter the in­ci­dent.

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