More than 100 deaths in the Petlawad explosions have sent another grim reminder about the gravity of the problem regarding pilferage of explosives. But it has been two years since the CRPF has been pushing for barcoding of explosives and detonators to prevent them from falling into wrong hands, sources told Hindustan Times.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the lead paramilitary force of the country in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states, has recovered more than 55,000 kg explosives and around 55,400 detonators from the LWE areas in the past five years, the sources said.
The force has recovered more than 6,000 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the past five years from the areas. It has lost 91 personnel to IED blasts and more than 200 injured. “We are losing more men to landmine blasts than to encounters with the Maoists, which is a matter of serious concern,” said CRPF chief Prakash Mishra.
The CRPF said if the manufacturers barcode the explosives sent to users, mainly in the mining sector, they’d be able to know their origin once they recover illegal explosives. By tracking their journey, the states grappling with Maoists menace can nab those who illegally divert them.
A barcode is a representation of data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines or symbols attached to an object. It can be read by a scanner.
“The job of developing barcodes for explosive manufacturers has been given to the Nagpur-based Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation or PESO, which is under the ministry of commerce and industry. We have heard that some explosive manufacturers are averse to the idea as it they may have to bear the cost of the exercise but the pilferage of explosives has become a huge problem now,” said another senior CRPF official.
State governments may be able to check illegal mining as well by tracking the illegal explosives, the officials added.
The site of the explosion in Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh. The CRPF has recovered more than 55,000 kg explosives from areas affected by Left Wing Extremism in the past five years (AFP Photo)