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Image courtesy: PESO
Nagpur-based Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has declined Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA’s) suggestion to accept a larger role in the oversight of safety in the explosives sector.  MHA had made the suggestion while offering its comments on a company’s application seeking licence to produce certain innovative explosives that cannot be misused by terrorists. 
PESO has politely but firmly told its administrative ministry, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI), that it impractical to accept two safety conditions suggested by MHA. 
According to informed sources, MHA had asked MCI in October 2013 to advise PESO to accept two specific responsibilities. Sources quoted the first condition as specifying that “PESO will be responsible for approving the manufacturing process for explosives based on the safety management plan submitted by the applicant. Self audits and external safety audits of the systems and procedures will be as per Rule 26(3)u (of Indian Explosives Rules). The adequacy of the security arrangements at the factory will be approved by the concerned district authority.”
The second condition is that “Peso will examine all relevant conditions of the rules before issue of explosives licence and address all safety aspects under the current scenario.”
MCI asked PESO to examine MHA’s suggestion even though it does not come under the ambit of the Industries (Development & Regulation) Act.
After consulting PESO, the explosives division of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in MCI has recorded that “obtaining PESO’s acceptability to the two conditions conveyed in MHA’s comments does not seem feasible.”
The Explosive division has noted that PESO is a statutory authority empowered to administer the Explosives Act and rules framed under the Act. Its major functions are grant of different approvals specified under the law. PESO also carries out inspection and audit of the new premises for verification while granting approvals. It also undertakes periodic inspection of licensed units. 
It is the standard mandate of PESO prescribed under the Explosives Rules to examine all relevant cnditgions of the rules before issue of explosives licence. 
Without making an issue out of PESO’s stance, MHA has decided to lift the ban of clearance of applications seeking licneces to manufacture industrial explosives including much-misused ammonium nitrate. 
MHA has desired that explosive producers should be provided with all requisite security for transportation of explosives till the time DIPP frames its regulatory mechanism for tracking explosives that is currently being developed by National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG). 
It has advised DIPP to take an undertaking from explosive companies that they will comply with the proposed regulatory mechanism, once it is put in place. 
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