Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A cracker testing facility will be set up in Virudhunagar in view of demands from firework manufacturers and to ensure safety, Labour Minister T.M. Anbarasan informed the Assembly on Thursday.

Most of the manufacturers did not have space within their campuses to test crackers and had requested the government to help with the testing process.

On Tuesday, 17 persons died following a blast in a firecracker manufacturing unit near Madurai.

The Minister said that the State government would soon announce minimum wages for domestic help. Replying to the debate on the demands for grants for Labour and Employment Department, he said that his was part of the measures to ensure that all workers in the unorganised sector got their due.

On children being employed, the Minister said that from January 2008 to end-March 2009, Labour Department inspectors had visited over 2.45 lakh establishments. As many as 495 violations were noticed and 231 prosecutions filed under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and allied Acts.

Mr. Anbarasan said that 308 cases ended in conviction and Rs.24.6 lakh was collected as fine. As many as 508 children were rescued. Of this, 211 were enrolled in special schools, 21 admitted to shelters and 276 children handed over to their parents.

The district-level task force set up to inspect establishments for child labour had inspected 82,115 establishments and rescued 238 children. Of this, 129 children were admitted to special schools, 105 handed over to parents and 4 admitted to shelters.