‘Lack of effective monitoring mechanism leading to frequent fireworks accidents’

The fact-finding team says working sheds in fireworks units are very primitive in nature and do not have any safety measures; workers are casually handling very dangerous chemicals

Published - June 11, 2024 09:05 pm IST - Madurai

A fact-finding team displaying its report on frequent accidents in fireworks units in Virudhunagar district, in Madurai on Tuesday.

A fact-finding team displaying its report on frequent accidents in fireworks units in Virudhunagar district, in Madurai on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

A fact-finding team has faulted the ineffective monitoring mechanism by government agencies on violations of safety measures in fireworks units, claiming lives of workers.

The team of All India Central Council for Trade Unions said major causes of accidents were the illegal practice of leasing out fireworks factories to third parties, employing more workers than the permitted numbers and the practice of payment of wages on piece-meal rate.

All the illegal practices were known to government officials, but lack of effective monitoring mechanism was leading to frequent accidents, said Professor Murali, who was part of the fact-finding team.

The working sheds were very primitive in nature and did not have any safety measures, he added.

The team members said workers were casually handling very dangerous chemicals which had the potential to cause huge blasts.

While the factory owners did not visit the units, the works were handled by foremen. The lack of adequate training to the workers in handling chemicals and the absence of safety infrastructure for manufacturing aerial fireworks were the major safety concerns, they said.

The Centre of Execellence for Burns at Sivaksi Government Hospital lacked adequate infrastructure to handle third degree burn injuries. Many of the grievously injured workers died on their way to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, they charged.

The basic working conditions in fireworks units were poor. The workers did not have insurance. The deceased families were given compensation by the owners. Sometimes, the government-announced relief was delayed, said C. Mathivanan of the CPI-ML.

“The village administrative officer does not have the details of workers of fireworks units in his or her jurisdiction,” said T. Sankarapandian, State president of the AICCTU.

With no alternative job opportunities in the district, the poor workers were dependent on the fireworks units despite knowing that their lives were in danger. The manufacturing processes should be modernised and proper training should be given to the workers.

Similarly, ensuring minimum wages would help prevent the workers working in a hurry while handling dangerous chemicals, he added.

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