Former Kollam District Collector A Shanimol on Saturday said that the Puttingal fireworks mishap could have been averted, if the Kerala police had taken necessary steps.
The officer was deposing before the Justice S Gopinathan Commission which is probing the tragedy.
"The Additional District Magistrate (ADM) was the authority to give permission and reject license for carrying out fireworks. In the order, rejecting the permission, the police was directed to ensure that the competitive fireworks don’t happen," Shanimol told the Commission.
The terrible tragedy that took place at a temple at Puttingal or Paravur in Kollam District in April 2016 had claimed over 100 lives.
Soon after the tragedy, it had come to light that the ADM had not granted permission to the temple for the annual competitive fireworks carried out by the temple.
The ADM had denied permission for the competition in which two temple priests attempt to outdo each other with the kind of fireworks they have in their kitty.
“In the order rejecting the permission, there was clear direction to the District Police Chief to ensure no violation of order takes place and in case of any violation stern action had to be initiated. A report in this regard was sent to ADM. The directive was given to the Kollam District Police Chief and the Assistant Commissioner of Police and Sub Inspector concerned," said Shanimol, according to The New Indian Express.
“The Tehsildar was also asked to monitor the situation directly and I believe that he was at the spot,” she said. However, she added that she was not sure about that.
Shanimol was in Thiruvananthapuram on the day of the tragedy.
A blame game over the tragedy erupted days after it occurred, when then DGP TP Senkumar said that the order banning the fireworks display should have been issued by the district authorities much earlier.
In the tragedy, one on-duty policeman was killed while two others were injured.
Chief Secretary Nalini Netto who was Home Secretary at the time, in a report to the government, had suggested action against three police officials including Kollam Police Commissioner P Prakash.