oppn parties Temple Fire: Flouting Rules With Tragic Consequences

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Temple Fire: Flouting Rules With Tragic Consequences

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The tragedy at Puttingal temple in Kerala once again highlights the fact that there is scant regard for rules in India and given the backing of the right kind of people (read: netas) or the right kind of enticement (read: bribe), most rules can be flouted and ‘permissions’ can be granted in a jiffy.

The way the temple committee could go ahead with a fireworks display of such magnitude without having proper permissions and safety measures in place shows that it was bold enough to know that the authorities will not move to prevent it and stupid enough to assume that no mishap could take place.

The boldness was the result of the backing of several big netas who must have told the committee to go ahead and leave the rest to them. This is something that often results in tragedy. Politicians should always back any initiative only if it gets all the necessary clearances from civic authorities. But then the backing of the netas is required to get those permissions. It is sad that netas use their clout to break or bend the very rules which they help in creating.

The existence of myriad rules and regulations for even the smallest of things means that most Indians think that unnecessary red tape stifles enterprise in the country. While this is true in majority of the cases, but there are certain rules that are designed for the safety of the citizens and, as this tragedy shows, it is disastrous to ignore them or even go around them.

Rules that govern fire safety measures and storage of explosives have been designed with the people’s safety in mind. Although they can seem stifling, following them prevents mishaps to a large extent. But Puttingal temple committee flouted all of them to store fireworks in a cavalier manner and did not have even the basic safety measures in place despite the fact that it was expecting a huge crowd to turn up for the show. Perhaps, it thought that the deity would prevent any mishap from taking place.

“But if we follow the rules, we will never get to hold the show” is the common refrain of all organizers of such events. So they either scout for backers or merrily cut through red tape by greasing palms. More often than not it results in tragedy. Organizers should remember that if they cannot follow all the rules, there is something basically wrong with their planning of the show. They should either go back to the drawingboard or not hold the show at all. No politician should back a show that does not have proper permissions from concerned authorities.