Meeting held to initiate steps to prevent accidents

The Labour Minister, S. T. Chellapandian, on Sunday gave an assurance that the government would initiate steps to form a welfare board for employees of fireworks units.

Addressing a meeting at the Collectorate here to discuss steps to prevent fire accidents in fireworks units, the Minister pointed out that many units did not follow regulations in the manufacturing process.

They should avoid employing more people to increase production. The presence of more than the stipulated number of workers in a shed, employment of people from other States, who did not know Tamil, and production of fireworks at home without any protection were the reasons for fire accidents, he said.

The meeting itself, Mr. Chellpandian said, had been convened on the instruction of Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, who was keen to initiate steps to prevent accidents in fireworks units.

The need for upgrading the local hospital to treat burn victims and filling up vacancies among factory inspections staff would be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister, he said. According to an official press release, the Minister also directed the officials to inspect fireworks units every week and send a report to him. The Minister for Information and Technology, R. B. Udhayakumar, said that the Chief Minister had directed them to present a report on the reasons for frequent fire accidents and steps to prevent them, in consultation with factory owners, employees' representatives and officials.

The Sivakasi MLA, K. T. Rajendrabalaji, appealed to the government to upgrade the Sivakasi hospital by providing the necessary facilities to treat burn injuries. The Aruppukottai MLA, Vaigai Selvan, called for periodic inspection to ensure that the factories followed all regulations and safety measures. The Rajapalayam MLA, K. Gopalsamy, suggested that awareness programmes on fire prevention could be conducted in all villages in the district on Sundays. The Virudhunagar MLA, K. Pandiyarajan, felt that absence of safety measures and ignorance could be the reasons for the accidents and called for appointment of those trained in fire safety drills in all fireworks units.

The Collector, M. Balaji, welcomed the gathering that included owners of fireworks units, representatives of trade units, the Superintendent of Police, Najmul Hoda, and officials. S. A. Raman, District Revenue Officer, proposed a vote of thanks.

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