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Artillery shells found in pond

Balasore, Jan. 14: Panic gripped Balasore town after two artillery shells were found in a pond when it was being dried up last evening.

The shells were believed to belong to Proof And Experimental Establishment (PEX), a unit of Defence Research and Development Organisation at Chandipur on the outskirts of the town.

PXE, a century old defence unit, regularly conducts tests of various arms and arsenals produced by ordnance factories in India or procured from other countries for use of Indian defence force.

Although the defence officials are tight-lipped about these shells, sources said these were inert ones and contained no explosives.

“The testing by using inert shell is being carried out to determine gun design strength, range and accuracy. These shells neither contain flash materials nor high explosives,” said an official in the unit requesting anonymity.

Generally the PEX unit recovers the fired shells after tests are conducted within 7,000-8,000km range.

Scrap traders normally pick up the fired shells from the sea after tide recedes. They extract metals such as steel and brass and then throw them off. In the past, there were causalities after explosion of misfired shells during extraction. The town police, however, took up the responsibility to dispose of the shells after the PEX officials disowned the seized articles.

“The seized shells were safely disposed of by our expert squad. We would investigate to whom these shells belong and how it reached the pond,” said Balasore police chief Amrita Dash.

“We contacted, the local PXE officials here did not respond,” said inspector in charge of Town police station, Umesh Chandra Garnaik.