THRISSUR: A major crisis in the festival front in Thrissur was averted on Saturday following the discussions between the festival organisers and the Ministers A C Moideen and V S Sunilkumar.
The festival organisers said they would conduct the fireworks displays on Sunday and Tuesday as part of the Pooram festival at the Uthralikavu temple, near Wadakkanchery. They claimed that the Ministers had assured them that there would not be any ban on any of the rituals and functions associated with the festivals. Following this they have also decided to call off the 24-hour fasts they had planned in front of the houses of the three Ministers Prof C Raveendranath, Moideen and Sunilkumar on Sunday and Tuesday.
However, it is not clear how the issues relating to the curbs on the fireworks will be resolved legally. The district administration has given sanction only for the use of 15 kg of fireworks at the Uthralikkavu festival, as they are vested with the powers only for this. On the other side, the organisers use over 1000 kg of fireworks in the displays every year at Uthralikkavu, according to the explosive experts. The sources said as per the understanding arrived at today’s meeting government has reportedly assured the festival organisers that no strict punitive actions would be taken against them even if they use fireworks above the sanctioned level of 15 kg. The officials of the neighbouring districts like Palakkad and Malappuram districts are adopting such an attitude, the sources claim. But the administration officials in Thrissur on the other side were strictly enforcing the rules and directions given by the explosive department.
The officials in Thrissur have also not given sanction to use high decibel and hazardous items like Kuzhiminni, amittu and gundu in the fireworks displays. However, it is not clear whether the organisers of Uthralikkavu Pooram festival have received sanctions for the use of such items from the government.
The officials of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) of the Centre had issued a circular in September last insisting that the items like Gundu, Kuzhiminni and Amittu should not be used in the fireworks display considering the hazards involved. The PESO officials had issued the circular in the backdrop of the fireworks tragedy which claimed 112 lives at Puthingal temple in Kollam in April last year. The district administration officials in Thrissur were seeking to enforce this instruction strictly.
The CPM district secretary K Radhakrishnan and CPI district secretary K K Valsaraj were also present in the discussions between the Ministers and festival organisers. The LDF leadership in the district was facing an embarrassing situation as the BJP and Congress were trying to put the ruling LDF on the defensive following the denial of permissions to conduct the fireworks displays in the festivals by the district authorities.