Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 12: The Kerala government today called an All-Party Meeting on April 14 to discuss whether or not to ban fireworks display during festivities in places of worship in the backdrop of the Kollam temple tragedy which has claimed 109 lives and left over 350 injured.
Talking reporters here after a meeting with senior officials and doctors attending to the injured, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also announced earmarking of Rs 20 crore for relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the April 10 fireworks tragedy at the century-old Putingal Devi temple at Paravoor, about 70 km from here.
Rs 10 crore had already been put at the disposal of the Kollam District Collector for immediate action, he said. The government will formulate a policy on fireworks after reaching a consensus at the All-Party Meeting on Thursday, he said after chairing the meeting this morning during which facilities being provided to the injured undergoing treatment at various hospitals were discussed.
Chandy's announcement came amid growing calls for banning fireworks displays in the backdrop of Kollam accident. The Kerala High Court is set to hear later today one of its judge's suggestion that high-decibel crackers be banned to prevent man-made tragedies such as the one in Kollam.
The accident occurred during an 'unauthorised' display of fireworks in the wee hours of Sunday after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehouse containing crackers, triggering explosions.
Meanwhile, BJP state President Kummanam Rajasekaran opposed any complete ban on the fireworks display in temples. It should be allowed with sufficient safety measures, he told reporters, adding certain groups were trying to make 'political gain' by raising the demand for banning fireworks display.
State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who addressed media in Alappuzha, said as the state was heading for polls, the government cannot take a unilateral decision. After discussions, the government would move forward in this regard, he said.
He made it clear that strict instructions have been given to police to carry out raids on illegal cracker manufacturing units.