Hyderabad blasts: Why no checks on post-sale use of ammonium nitrate?

Hyderabad blast photo

The Hyderabad blasts have again highlighted the need for a proper monitoring system for post-sale use and pilferage of ammonium nitrate.

This time though the authorities seem to have taken notice: officials of Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation, headquartered in Nagpur, discussed the issue Friday following queries about lacunae in the ammonium nitrate licensing regimen, sources said.

The Centre had last year notified the Ammonium Nitrate Rules, which laid down that permission for its immediate use would be given on the basis of a no-objection certificate from the Director General of Mines Safety for mining, and the district magistrate for non-mining purposes.

It is easy to put together an explosive using ammonium nitrate, which is even available in the market as fertiliser. All that is needed is to mix it with fuel oil in the ratio 94:6.

The home ministry has received several representations to make security clearance must for ammonium nitrate as it is for slurry, emulsion and SME as well as gelatin sticks.

"There is an anomaly in the rules, hence there is every possibility of its leakage by non-genuine users to anti-social elements," says one representation, a copy of which is with The Indian Express.

However, an expert said, "As it is available as fertiliser, it is difficult to make its use 100 percent foolproof. Checks of the record of material procures are... due to lack of manpower... few and far between, leaving scope for misuse."

PESO officials could not be reached for comment.

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