Thiruvananthapuram: Sunday’s tragedy at the Puttingal Devi temple in Kollam is the reason why Pankajakshi Amma, an NRI living close to the temple, has been constantly asking temple authorities for a ban on fireworks display.
At least 110 people were killed and 300-odd injured in a major fire that broke out during a fireworks display in the temple precincts on Sunday.
Her house, located 50 metres away from the temple, was also damaged when an explosion ripped through the area, even knocking down a portion of a one-storeyed building.
Shocked at the extent of loss of life and damage to property, Pankajakshi said she will continue her fight and resort to legal steps to ensure a total ban on fireworks display.
Since constructing her house in the area four years ago, the octogenarian has been facing trouble with the annual fireworks display. This year, she approached the district administration requesting a ban on it, following which the Kollam Collector denied permission to the Puttingal Devi temple authorities.
“We were often ostracised for speaking up against the fireworks. Nobody realised that they were sitting on a powder keg,” said Pankajakshi.
Her son-in-law Prakash alleged that temple management even threatened them when the complaint was filed with the district authorities.
“The house was built four years ago. In the first year itself, the building was damaged and doors had been broken in the fireworks display,” he said.
Revenue officials had apparently visited the family to verify the complaint and informed them that there was a stay on the display, but it was later held, Prakash said.
“We used to move away from the house during the time of the fireworks display every year. This time also, we were not at the house and we were staying at another house, owned by us,” he said.