NEW DELHI: Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya today urged Health Minister J P Nadda to reconsider the mandated pictorial warnings covering 85 per cent of the packaging space on beedi packets, a move that threatens the livelihood of 1.50 crore workers.
Dattatreya today also held tripartite consultations on the notification issued on October 15, 2010 and its impact on the beedi workers and the industry.
From April 1, 2016, Health Ministry's notification came into force for implementation of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Amendment Rules, 2014. It prescribes larger pictorial warnings, covering 85 per cent of packets on tobacco products. In a letter to Nadda, the Labour Minister said that the notification has invited "severe criticism" from stakeholders in spite of the government's noble intentions.
Dattatreya raised concern over impending loss of livelihood opportunities to beedi workers, which mostly comprises home-based and piece-rate workers who earn their living solely from beedi rolling or packaging.
"It is my understanding that the poor and illiterate beedi workers of our country are not ready at the moment to migrate to an alternative occupation, which will ensure a decent livelihood," he wrote in the letter.
He said that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation has made a recommendation for reconsideration to bring down the size of the pictorial warning to 50 per cent.
Meanwhile, the RSS-backed trade union, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), said during the tripartite consultations the Labour Minister asked the Health Secretary to reconsider the notification in the interest of 1.5 crore beedi workers and the 5 crore people who are dependent on them.
The union has asked the government to reconsider its decision regarding the notification, it said in a statement.
Earlier this month, All India Beedi Industry Federation, a body of over 240 manufacturers controlling over two-third of total branded beedi production, said the loss due to stopping production will be around Rs 200 crore a day. The overall beedi industry in India is estimated at around Rs 7,500 crore, with members of AIBIF members contributing around Rs 5,000 crore.