Two days after 135 people died and thousands injured in Lebanon’s Beirut due to an explosion that occurred from unsafe storage of ammonium nitrate, major concerns have aroused as about 700 tonnes of explosive chemicals have been stored for years under the custody of the Customs Department at the outskirts of Tamil Nadu’s capital city Chennai.
An NDTV report stated officials said this large consignment of the chemical – used in manufacturing fireworks and fertilisers – was meant for a group in the fireworks capital of India – Sivakasi. It was seized at the Chennai port in 2015 and has been lying there ever since. But, Chennai port officials said the pile of explosives is not stored in the harbor anymore.
The report also said, that around 36 containers with around 20 tonnes of ammonium nitrate are under the Customs Department’s contro and 697 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the Sattva container depot. The consignment was illegally imported by Sri Amman Chemicals and the department is working towards disposing them. Additionally, the state high court gave its ruling in November last year and e-auction for the chemicals is under process.
Meanwhile, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs tweeted, “CBIC has urgently directed Customs and field formations to immediately confirm and verify within 48 hours that any hazardous and explosive material lying in warehouses and ports across the country meets all safety and fire standards and presents no danger to life and property”.