Sivakasi workers stare at bleak future over court order and govt restrictions on crackers

Chennai: With a court order that made the government to impose time restrictions on bursting of firecrackers already posing a threat to the livelihood of lakhs of workers and their families in and around Sivakasi, recent actions by Odisha, Rajasthan and Delhi governments are now adding more to the agony.

While Rajasthan and Odisha have banned the sale and bursting of crackers, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has urged people not to indulge in fireworks in view of pollution and Covid-19 situation. And, ‘environment’ activists are spreading ‘awareness’ against bursting of crackers on social media and other platforms.

According to Shanmugam of Sivakasi, “we work throughout the year only for Deepavali. But the restrictions and bans are posing a threat to the very existence of fireworks manufacturing here. We don’t know what to do.”

Palanivel, who works with a crackers unit, says, “bursting crackers is our tradition. Why are people making a huge issue out of this one day event, when there are so many things that are polluting the environment?”

Meanwhile, Tamilnadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has penned letters to his Odisha and Rajasthan counterparts Naveen Patnaik and Ashok Gehlot respectively, requesting them to lift the ban.

“As you are aware, Diwali festival is celebrated across the country by the public by bursting crackers, as part of their cultural ethos. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in its judgment dated 23.10.2018 in W.P.(C) No.728 of 2018, considering the direct and indirect employment involved in the manufacturing of crackers, as well as to safeguard the traditional/cultural way of celebrating the Diwali festival, directed all the States ‘to encourage bursting of crackers in public places for a limited period of 2 hours on the day of Diwali”, he said.

According to Palaniswami, “I would like to inform you that in Tamilnadu, in tune with the Supreme Court directions, we have restricted the bursting of green crackers to 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening. Tamil Nadu is a major cracker manufacturing State using raw materials with reduced emission level and low decibel. Tamil Nadu contributes to about 90% of total manufacture of crackers in the country, providing direct employment to around 4 lakh people and indirect employment to 4 lakh people. Their livelihood solely depends on the sale of crackers during Diwali season. The ban on bursting crackers in your State can have a direct bearing on the livelihood of over 8 lakh workers in the State of Tamil Nadu and another equal number of people engaged in its sale.”

He added: “It is understood that your Government has recently banned the sale and bursting of the crackers in your State for the ensuing Diwali season, considering the pandemic COVID-19 situation. I would like to bring to your kind notice that Tamil Nadu State produces mainly green crackers and therefore the question of environmental pollution does not arise. There is no empirical or validated data to demonstrate that the bursting of crackers has effect on Covid patients. I, therefore, request you to reconsider your Government’s decision to ban the sale
and bursting of crackers in your State for this Diwali season.”


NT Bureau