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Workers stage protest for early opening of cracker units

SIVAKASI

Fireworks industry has raised suspicion over “the inaction of the Central and State governments” over the prolonged ban on a majority of fireworks products as it could be a “conspiracy to promote illegal Chinese crackers” during Deepavali season.

Secretary of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association (TANFAMA) K. Mariappan said the Centre should withdraw its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court that found fault with barium nitrate and joined crackers, on the pretext that they were causing pollution, and suggested manufacture of only green crackers.

He was addressing hundreds of workers, who participated in a day-long protest organised by the Federation of Tamil Nadu Fireworks Traders for early opening of the units, here on Monday.

“The Supreme Court has banned barium nitrate and joined crackers only on the basis of the Centre’s affidavit. Now, the fireworks industry has remained closed for nearly three months as a majority of items cannot be produced with the ban order in effect. Besides, the Centre is yet to come up with the technology for manufacturing green crackers,” Mr. Mariappan, who also participated in the protest, said.

With the production stopped for three months and the likelihood of this plight continuing for another three months, the domestic industry could not make up for the lost working days to meet the demand for Deepavali season and it would only lead to illegal import of Chinese crackers, he said.

Mr. Mariappan also flayed the State government for not bringing out a special resolution giving assurance of exemption from the Environmental Protection Rules to the fireworks industry. “For more than a year, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palanisami had promised to table a resolution to this effect in the Assembly. But, now Minister for Dairy Development K.T. Rajenthra Bhalaji says there is no need for that,” he said.

The exemption to fireworks industry under Section 3 (3B) of the Environmental Protection Rules would give the industry a permanent relief from frequent allegations of pollution. “Fireworks are used only on Deepavali, Christmas or during other celebrations and events. Emission from fireworks does not last beyond 12-24 hours. Under the Environmental Protection Rules, any suspended particles that last in the atmosphere beyond 48 hours are considered pollutants,” he said.

Over eight lakh people directly and indirectly employed by fireworks have lost their employment for three months as 1,070 fireworks units remain closed.

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