With over 90 fireworks units facing suspension for violation of safety rules, over 700 units have closed down in and around Sivakasi, apparently, due to fear of action by officials.
However, a senior officials said that there was a drastic increase in price of raw materials owing to spiralling fuel price. “Besides, the manufacturers were wary of the prevailing weather condition with high humidity which would trigger fire accidents,” he said.
Meanwhile, an office bearer of a manufacturers’ association said that the fireworks producers have closed down the units on their own without any call from any of the associations.
“Several teams of officials (from various departments) are on an inspection drive and so far licences of over 80 units have been suspended (by the district administration) Besides, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation has suspend the licences of 11 units,” he said.
The association office-bearers have been asking the units to start the work as it would affect the workers ahead of Panguni Pongal, scheduled later in the month. The fireworks units need to pay bonus for the workers on the occasion.
“We have told the manufacturers that only those who have leased out their units or allowing more workers than the permitted numbers should fear the officials. Those who are following the safety standards need not close down,” he added.
However, some of the manufacturers felt that even for minor deviation like not maintaining records or drying materials without chemicals under shade were also being taken seriously by the inspecting officials.
Office-bearers of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association and The Indian Fireworks Manufacturers’ Associaiton raised their concerns with Virudhunagar Collector, R. Kannan, and Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives of PESO, K. Sundaresan.
“We welcome the inspection by officials that will help to weed out the practice of leasing and sub-leasing that are causing fatal accidents. However, our only plea is that they officials should come with an open mind for inspection rather than to somehow suspend the licences,” said TIFMA general secretary, T. Kannan.
As the Collector promised to look into their demand, the associations have decided to ask its members to open the units on Tuesday, he added.
The district administration has mounted vigil on fireworks units after 29 lives were lost in fireworks accidents in two units in the district in February.