On 22 March, a massive explosion at a firecracker unit in Tamil Nadu's Kancheepuram resulted in the deaths of at least 11 people and injured nearly 20 others.
Chief Minister MK Stalin announced a solatium of Rs 3 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to those who sustained injuries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
What happened in Kancheepuram? Narendran Fireworks at Kuruvimalai, near Orikkai village, Kancheepuram district, had reportedly violated the standard time of operation in summer, The Times of India reported. Though the factory is a licensed firecracker manufacturing unit, it reportedly did not possess a No Objection Certificate from the Fire and Rescue Service Department, South First reported.
The building that housed the manufacturing-cum-storage facility collapsed under the impact of the explosion. At least 35 workers were working inside the unit, and three others were working with chemicals outside the factory under the hot sun.
The deceased have been identified as Sudarshan (31), Devi (32), Sasikala (35), Jagadeesh (35), Murugan (40), Ravi (49), Bupathi (57), Vidya (30), and her husband Gangadaran (35). The injured are admitted at the government hospitals in Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, and Vellore Christian Medical College Hospital (CMCH).
The Fire and Rescue Department’s stations at Kanchipuram, Uthiramerur, and Sriperumbudur rushed fire tenders and equipped personnel reached the scene to carry out rescue operations and douse the fire. While the exact cause of the fire is yet to be found, officials suspect that the accident might have been caused by a chemical reaction while mixing chemicals in summer heat.
Are the factory owners facing the heat for the violations? Narendran, the factory owner, has reportedly been charged with various offences, including negligence, and has been remanded to judicial custody.
What are the reactions from political leaders in Tamil Nadu? Minister for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises TM Anbarasan visited the injured who were admitted at the Kancheepuram Government Hospital and said that 27 people were affected by the accident, and three people died on the spot.
Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai, Tamil Manila Congress (TMC) leader G K Vasan, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary K Balakrishnan extended their condolences for the affected workers and urged the state government to monitor the firecracker factories regularly and ensure the safety of the workers is prioritised.