Tamil Nadu

Fireworks industry workers’ protest leads to bus diversions in Virudhunagar

Workers from the fireworks industry block the four-lane road in front of Virudhunagar Collectors office as part of a ‘gherao’ protest on Friday against the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court on the use of certain chemicals in the manufacturing of crackers.

Workers from the fireworks industry block the four-lane road in front of Virudhunagar Collectors office as part of a ‘gherao’ protest on Friday against the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court on the use of certain chemicals in the manufacturing of crackers.   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Over 5,000 employees of the fireworks industry from Sivakasi and other parts descended on the Virudhunagar Collectorate premises on Friday morning to highlight the plight of lakhs of employees who have been rendered jobless for over a month following a Supreme Court verdict on manufacture of green crackers.

As the crowd began spilling over to the national highway close to the Collectorate, it led to a diversion of long-distance buses plying between Madurai and Tirunelveli via the Thoothukudi highway.

In addition to fireworks employees, manufacturers, agents and dealers and transport operators, leaders from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions and the All India Trade Union Congress also gathered in front of the Collectorate. The agitators are seeking relief from government for the workers during the closure period.

As a precautionary measure, the district police deployed over 3,000 police personnel from Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Madurai and Ramanathapuram.

Huge barricades were put up outside the Collector’s office compound wall preventing people from entering into the office. Riot control vehicles from Madurai and tear-gas shells were kept ready to meet any eventuality.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (Madurai Range) Pradip Kumar and Virudhunagar Superintendent of Police, M. Rajajaran, were overseeing the bandobust.

Hundreds of vehicles from Sivakasi, Vembakottai and Sattur taluks of Virudhunagar district, where the fireworks units are predominantly located, were still coming into the highway carrying large number of workers, including women.

The joint rally by the manufacturers, agents and workers is aimed at drawing the attention of the State and the Centre to the closure of 1,070 registered fireworks units in the district. The Supreme Court had ordered banning production of “joined crackers” and using Barium Nitrate in manufacturing of crackers in order to control pollution based on a public interest litigation.

The fireworks industry has decided to close down the factories after it feared penal action from district administration and Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation, the two licensing bodies, for violating the Supreme Court order for making “green” crackers.

“No agency in the country knows what a green cracker is. Against this backdrop, closure of the units has hit the workers the most. The State Government has failed to effectively put forth its views in protecting the labour-intensive units,” said CITU leader, A. Soundarajan.

As a mark of protest, shops and establishments in Tirutangal and Sivakasi were shut down on Friday.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 7:21:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/fireworks-industry-workers-protest-leads-to-bus-diversions-in-virudhunagar/article25797147.ece

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