Kollam: As Puttingal village mourns the death of 110 people on the second anniversary of the fireworks tragedy, the investigations both Judicial and by the Crime Branch, are just halfway. Competitive fireworks held during a temple festival at the Puttingal temple in Paravur had turned into a major disaster claiming 110 lives and leaving over 700 injured on April 10, 2016. The Crime Branch has found a total of 59 accused of which 37 including the temple committee members and those involved with fireworks have been slapped with murder charges.
Meanwhile, there had been no departmental inquiry into the criminal negligence by the Police and revenue officials. The order by the district magistrate to prevent competitive fireworks, based on several reports from various Government organisations including the Tahsildar, was found violated, causing the accident. Puttingal temple devaswom managing committee secretary J. Krishnankutty Pillai had submitted a request for permission on February 23, 2016. The order preventing the fireworks was issued by the ADM on April 8, a day before the disaster.
However, neither the ADM nor the District magistrate had the power of attorney to review the order once issued. It could be reviewed only by the Land revenue commissioner and he was not even contacted by the organisers. Reports suggested that denying permission to the event was laid down as there existed a possibility of explosives being used beyond the permissible limit as the event was competitive fireworks between two “fireworks masters”.
The judicial probe ordered into the tragedy has also come to a complete standstill with the resignation of the Commission, headed by retired Justice N. Krishnan Nair. The Government also failed to provide sufficient facilities for the Commission to start the inquiry. The Judicial probe into the incident is in its final stages with the Commission preparing to submit the report by August. The Commission led by Justice P.S. Gopinathan has conducted various sittings in Puttingal and in Kollam, recording statements of the witnesses involved. The trial in the case will commence soon after the completion of collecting statements. The Commission had earlier conducted the examination of official witnesses at its headquarters in the GCDA building at Marine Drive in Kochi.