KOCHI: The Ernakulam district collector refused to grant permission to conduct fireworks at Sree Marattil Kottaram Bhagavathi Temple at Maradu during the festival.

Explaining the reason for not granting permission, collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla said it is impossible to maintain a safe distance of 100metre between onlookers and fireworks at the place. Referring to two past incidents of fire accidents due to which people lost lives, the collector asked the city police commissioner to implement the order.

However, ‘Vadakke Cheruvaram’ president Jayakantha Butt is not happy with the decision and said it was taken without hearing them. “We will appeal against the collector’s order in the high court,” said Butt.

The collector passed the order after receiving the applications to conduct fireworks from ‘Vadakke Cheruvaram’ president Jayakantha Butt and ‘Thekke Cheruvaram’ president Sathish Butt. The applications were submitted for conducting fireworks on March 9 and 10.

The temple is famous for the fireworks performed during the annual festival. The festival is organized by two teams of the temple namely Vadakke Cheruvaram and Thekke Cheruvaram.

Recently, Fire and Rescue services divisional officer, Kanayannur tahsildar and city police commissioner had submitted a detailed report. The collector received complaints from local residents against holding fireworks.

In his report, the city police commissioner pointed out that fireworks held in 2008 resulted in the death of four people. While three people died on the spot and one person died at the hospital.

Last year, two women were killed at the place where materials for fireworks were stocked. Many houses and buildings were damaged. These cases are still pending. The commissioner’s report also stated that there were houses and public road near to the area where fireworks are held. As vehicles carrying petroleum products frequently move through the Pettah-Kundannoor Road, the chances for accidents were high, it said.

The police also said that there was no facility for public to watch fireworks from a safe distance.

Meanwhile, the fire and rescue service reported that there were shops, houses, roads leading to a school, 11 kV electricity line an auditorium close to the area where fireworks are held.

District magistrate C K Prakasam visited the site based on the direction issued by the district collector. He also submitted a report to the collector.

Accordingly, on Friday, the collector convened a meeting of the police, fire and rescue officials, tahsildar and the members of the festival committee to discuss the issue.

Maradu police have welcomed the move and temple authorities are finding out means to keep the festive mood high without firecrackers. “We feel so relaxed with the decision,” said a senior police official from Maradu police.

“We are trying to conduct symbolic versions of firework display as per the restrictions put forward by district administration,” said one of the temple committee members, on condition of anonymity, who attended the meeting on Saturday.

However, locals are not impressed. “This is totally ridiculous and senseless decision as the firework display is a main ritual in connection with the Thalappoli of Maradu Kottaram Bhagavathy temple,” said Suresh, from Tripunithura.