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Andhra Pradesh - Vijayawada Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Firecracker dealers ignore safety norms

By R. Balaji

VIJAYAWADA, NOV. 7. Even as the cracker blast that killed 12 persons in Srikakulam district is still fresh in the minds, "blatant violation" of norms by most wholesale dealers continues.

According to official sources, most of the 13 wholesale cracker dealers in the city are carrying out their business without adhering to basic fire safety norms. As per the norms, licences can be granted to wholesale cracker shops only in non-commercial and non-residential areas. Such shops should also have fire extinguishers and electrical fittings installed by competent technicians.

However, all the wholesale shops in the city are located either in the heart of the commercial areas or residential areas, the Divisional Fire Officer, Murali Mohan, told The Hindu here on Saturday. It was feared that even a minor fire could create a catastrophe, as the shops were located in densely populated areas. Moreover, most of the shops had poor quality of electrical fittings, which could trigger off a fire from short-circuit, an official said.

Issue of licences

The Joint Director of Explosives, Chennai had issued licences for the wholesale cracker dealers more than a decade ago. The licenses were subject to renewal every three years and were renewed last year by the dealers and would expire only in 2005, a senior police official explained.

A top police official claimed that the local police and the Fire Services Department had little say in the matter as the officials of the Explosives Department at Chennai granted licences. "However, we have written to them at Chennai to cancel the licences," he said.

400 applications

Meanwhile, the City Police Commissionerate received about 400 applications seeking permission for setting up temporary cracker shops. Last year the figure was 350.

The City Police Commissioner, Umesh Sharraf, is holding a meeting with senior police officials on Sunday to decide on the applications after examining the `NoC' from the Fire Services Department. About 200 shops are likely to be up at the PWD Grounds alone.

According to norms fixed by the State Government, temporary shops should be located only in non-residential and non-commercial areas, have a minimum space of 15 x 20 feet, ensconced in galvanised iron sheets, have fire extinguishers and three buckets each of sand and water.

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