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Dark side of Dazzling Fire Work Industry in India
Today, you will read General Awareness Topic:
"Dark side of Dazzling Fire Work Industry in India"
Fireworks are very popular in our country. These are extensively used during celebration of various festivals. Fireworks provide a grand finale to most of the functions. Fireworks industry is labour intensive and it involves a degree of skill and specialization.
The fireworks industry is governed by the Indian Explosives Act and Rules 1940 and the unit has to comply with all the regulations. A no objection certificate from the District Magistrate for the establishment of such industry has to be obtained and approval for establishment of the factory has to be obtained from the Inspector of Explosives of the region. This industry is concentrated in Sivakasi, Ramanand District, Tamil Nadu.
Sivakasi is known throughout the world for fireworks production. 90% of India’s fireworks is produced here. The fireworks industry in Sivakasi is worth between Rs 800-1000 crore. The market for fireworks is likely to grow at the rate of 10% per annum.
There are nearly 450 fireworks factories giving direct employment to about 40,000 workers and about 1 lakh indirect such as paper tube making, wire cutting, box making in the country side. Fireworks in Sivakasi also produce Military Weapons training items. They are used for training in armed forces. Some airports are using Sivakasi rocket to scare away birds to avoid bird hits of aircrafts.
However, there is some dark-side of the dazzling fire work industry in India which received widespread criticism for the employment of child workers. For many years, the industry employed thousands of children, because they were paid half as much as adults and their hands were suited to working with the small firecrackers that most factories made then. Child labor has yet to be eradicated from the industry.
The practice of home-based firework production, enabled through a network of contractors and sub-contractors, has gained strength and is not just creating fire hazards at homes, but is also pulling children into the industry. Fireworks industries give contracts to the villages for making roll caps, sticking the materials where a large number of children work at homes after coming from school.
Moreover, the violation of safety norms has caused around 1,000 deaths in the last 10 years and continues unchecked due to insufficient government regulation of the industry. Every year around 150 people gets injured in fire accidents and many get killed. Lack of proper safety precaution and overloading the workers with tight deadlines are one of the main reasons for such accidents.
There are several human rights violations and violations of law passed by Indian Government in this industry. The accident which occurred on Sep 5th 2012 is one of the major accidents in past years. Around 53 died in the accident and many were injured. Licence of the factory where explosion took place, was revoked the day before due to safety violations and more inventory was on hand than regulations allow, apparently in anticipation of India’s peak fireworks season i.e. Diwali.
Those who work in the industry carry painful scars - a broken leg or skull, or a hand burnt by explosives, and many here complain of chronic respiratory problems. Unavailability of gloves and masks results in many chronic diseases to the labourers.
The Shivkashi hospital has a shortage of staff and equipment and has no supply of morphine, the standard pain relief drug for burn victims. A license for a fireworks factory comes through only after clearances from the local police, pollution, health and other departments, but a lack of coordination and the absence of routine official checks mean many factories do not follow safety norms.
Most laborers in fireworks plants, who tend to be temporary workers paid on a piecework basis, not only are uninsured but take further risks during the peak season by bringing raw materials home to assemble fireworks there. Researchers say the fireworks industry’s safety practices need to be monitored more regularly, by elected officials as well as nongovernmental organizations.
Of late, government had also started some measures like – expansion of fire-hazard training and development of methods for automating the manufacturing process. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has earmarked Rs.11.3 million for a burn ward at the Sivakasi government hospital, to be run by Madurai Medical College Hospital. Also, the Tamil Nadu government plans to double the number of beds in the government hospital to 60, in addition to building an intensive care unit, an operation theater, a plastic surgery unit, an orthopedic unit, a physiotherapy unit and a rehabilitation center, with the total cost estimated at 45 million rupees.
India is the second biggest producer of fireworks after China and almost all of it is for domestic consumption. As the Shivkashi’s soil is not suitable for agriculture, fireworks are the only source of livelihood for its residents. While the efforts of the industry and the authorities is to automate procedures, setting up of better medical facilities and ensuring greater compliance to safety regulations should come up as soon as possible.