New Delhi, 11th April, 2016
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a devastating fire due to explosion in the stored crackers in the premises of crowded Puttingal Devi Temple took away about 107 lives and caused injuries to more than 400 people in Kollam, Kerala on the 10th April, 2016. Reportedly, the Temple authorities had to go ahead with a competitive pyrotechnics display despite the denial of permission from the Kollam district administration.
The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala as well as the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, Kollam calling for reports in the matter within four weeks. The Chief Secretary has been asked to apprise the Commission about the steps taken by the State Government to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future.
The Commission, while issuing the notices, has also observed that the life of hundreds of people was at risk by such an event organised by the Temple authorities, who despite having been denied the permission by the District administration decided to go ahead. The contents of the media report indicate that the District administration remained a mute spectator and was negligent in the prevention of such violation which is a serious issue of violation of right to life of the victims.
According to the media reports, huge quantity of crackers, meant to be burst to mark the conclusion of the Meena-Bharani festival, exploded, killing over 40 persons instantly, maiming many more and causing extensive damage to the nearby buildings. The disaster struck when a cracker, meant to explode in the air, fell to the ground, sending sparks flying in all directions. The spark ignited the crackers which were stored in a storehouse in the temple premises.