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Shutdown after heavy pellet rain

The year-old shotgun shooting ranges at Balewadi in Pune have been temporarily shut after labourers at an under-construction hotel complained that bullets were falling near their hutments and they were afraid of fatal injuries.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2009 23:54 IST
Ajai Masand

The year-old shotgun shooting ranges at Balewadi in Pune have been temporarily shut after labourers at an under-construction hotel complained that bullets were falling near their hutments and they were afraid of fatal injuries.

The problem was brought to the notice of the state government authorities in July during a preparatory training camp of elite trap, double-trap and skeet marksmen for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The camp was somehow completed with just one of the three wings of the range in operation and the next camp cannot start till the problem is resolved.

During the construction of the ranges, the state government officials who maintain the sports complex were told that the bullets would travel only till 100-120 metres and bullet catchers (tin sheets to stop the pellets) were set up at that distance so as to avoid any problems.

But the complaints from the labourers prove that the scattering pellets from the 12-bore cartridges are travelling beyond the ‘safe distance’ and causing panic as they fall on people.

The problem would be exacerbated once the hotel starts taking guests. Sanjay Sabnis, assistant director in directorate of sports, government of Maharashtra, admitted that there have been complaints but said they would soon raise the height of bullet catchers to tackle the problem.

“Because of rains and strong winds, the bullet catcher had got damaged and that was the reason why the pellets were reaching the under-construction hotel.

In a few weeks, we will be increasing the height of the bullet catcher and there won’t be any problem,” he added.

One of the coaches at the national camp in July said the 10-day programme had been a nightmare.

“We had to shuttle between one range to another before we shut down the “C” range after repeated protests.

“Following that the second range too had to be closed. We were planning to extend the camp but the programme was shelved,” he said.

“The situation is so bad that the thick tin sheets on the periphery have been badly dented. The scattering bullets can cause grievous injuries if they hit the eye, face etc,” he said.

(With inputs from B Shrikant)