AICCTU committee submits report on fire cracker units to TN government

During the visit, the committee found lapses in the monitoring of the factories, including non-maintenance of registry, poor working conditions and sub-leasing, among others.
Fire and rescue services personnel putting out a fire following a blast at a cracker unit Kalayarkuruchi village near Sivakasi
Fire and rescue services personnel putting out a fire following a blast at a cracker unit Kalayarkuruchi village near Sivakasi (Representative image | Express)

MADURAI: A committee formed by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) submitted a report to the state government with recommendations to regulate and keep a check on the firecracker manufacturing industry.

Former principal of the Madura College R Murali said that a committee comprising of Construction Workers' Union president Anthony Muthu, CPI(ML) Madurai District Secretary Mathivanan and CPI (ML) Virudhunagar District Secretary Avudayappan, among others were put together by the AICCTU to look into the accidents at firecracker manufacturing units near Sivakasi after May 16. The committee visited the Sudarsan Fireworks factory near Chengamalapatti where the accident took place.

During the visit, the committee found lapses in the monitoring of the factories, including non-maintenance of registry, poor working conditions and sub-leasing, among others. "A report by the deputy director of occupational safety and health observed the deficiencies at the factory where the explosion occurred. Some workers were working under trees as people could not be fully accommodated inside the facility. Other deficiencies, including about 300 kg of crackers being stored, against the permissible quantity of 25 kg were reported," the committee said.

Mathivanan and AICCTU State Secretary T Sankarapandian said that the district administration, law enforcement agencies and the public remain passive witnesses, despite the practice of sub-leasing permits to manufacture explosives and factory licences. Any person found sub-leasing their factory licence should be punished. Officials found violating rules should also be punished, they said.

They further spoke about the committee's recommendations to the state government, including the implementation of employment schemes (similar to MGNREGS) in villages and towns with multiple firecracker production units to regulate the industry and prevent loss of life.

The revenue inspector of the revenue & disaster management department and village administrative officer should prepare a list of workers at fireworks factories and submit it to the gram sabha for approval, following which the government can provide benefits as per the Fireworks and Match Industries Workers Welfare Board. It must also be ensured that the firecracker workers are included in group insurance schemes.

"Providing compulsory training to all workers should be the responsibility of the state. Rs 50 lakh in case of death and Rs 25 lakh for grievous injuries should be provided to the worker or their kin. Statutory minimum wages should be paid in all cracker production units. The government should enforce labour laws, including attendance register, insurance and PF. The department of labour should submit a detailed report annually. Necessary funds should be allocated to upgrade the special burns unit at the Sivakasi hospital," the committee added.

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