The Kollam Additional District Magistrate (ADM) had not granted permission to the temple for the annual competitive fireworks carried out by the Kollam Puttingal temple.
In a document dated March 1, the ADM had denied permission for the annual ‘competitive fireworks’ in which two temple priests attempt to outdo each other with the kind of fireworks they have in their kitty. This decision was taken based on the reports of revenue and police departments.
The document, a copy of which is with The News Minute, says that the Collector had received a complaint from a woman named Pankajakshi, whose houses was located 25 metres away from the temple. She complained that each year, her house was damaged by the display and that there were elderly and sick people who were inconvenienced.
After receiving the complaint, the ADM asked various officials to assess the situation and submit reports on the safety of such an event.
The report of the Tahsildar says that the temple could only be allowed to conduct the Vishu celebrations if it met four conditions: not using fireworks that were too loud, ensure that too much of crowd does not come, crowd control measures, ensure that only stipulated amount of fireworks is used.
Kollam district Superintendent of Police however, notes that regardless of whether permission was issued for 12kg of fireworks to be used, there was a high possibility that the temple could end up using much more that the stipulated amount. The SP also notes that there was a high possibility of a fire tragedy.
Both the Assistant Divisional Fire Officer, and the Environment Engineer of the area say that the festival could go on as long as certain conditions were strictly met.
Paravoor sub inspector’s report notes that in future, the event should be shifted to a place with less people. But taking into account all these reports, the ADM decided to not give permission for the fireworks.
Chathanur MLA GS Jayalal has said: “From what I know, written permission was taken by temple authorities to make sure that the festival is done within certain stipulations. But it does not look like it happened.”
Prakash, a resident said: “We have been suffering for three years as our houses would get damaged. Around eight to 10 of us got together and gave a complaint to the Collector. The authorities helped us and tried to intervene. I think someone exerted pressure and allowed the festival to go on.”
The Puttingal temple fire in the early hours of Sunday morning has claimed óver 100 lives, and the death toll could go up.
See the documents below: