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Fireworks town Sivakasi comes to a standstill

04-01-2018
Fireworks town Sivakasi comes to a standstill

Sivakasi, the fireworks hub of the country, on Wednesday came to a standstill as the town shut down in support of the indefinite strike by fireworks manufacturers. The trading community estimated a loss of Rs 250 crore due to the shutdown.

Fireworks manufacturers have closed down their units indefinitely on the grounds that they can't run the industry due to uncertainty prevailing over fireworks manufacturing after the Supreme Court banned fireworks during Diwali in Delhi and NCR.

Though the ban was lifted on November 1, the fireworks industry in Sivakasi could not commence the production. "North Indian dealers have refused to place any orders. Without advances paid on orders, the industry can't function," said G Abiruben, former president of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA).

The association representatives are in Delhi as the next hearing is scheduled on January 5. "The strike was spontaneous by workers and town people because they know that fireworks is backbone of Sivakasi", said TANFAMA general secretary K Marippan.

Mass rallies and protests were undertaken at Sivakasi Bus stand and near Kamarajar statue. All political parties as well as trade unions like CITU (Centre for Indian Trade Union) participated in these protests where they raised slogans to protect fireworks industry.

Started in 1940s, fireworks and matches are two important industries of Sivakasi which in turn nurtured other industries like printing, packing and cardboard box manufacturing as well as transport industry catering to all these industrial units. Over the period, Sivakasi came to be known for its calendars and diary manufacturing too. "Fireworks is the backbone of Sivakasi without which this town will not survive," said Ravi Arunachalam, secretary of Sivakasi Chamber of Commerce.

All the stakeholders of the industry, including the workers, feel that they are penalised for carrying out a legally permitted industry. "We are branded as polluting, but Sivakasi recycles all used paper materials to make cardboard boxes for packing industry here. The government should realise that they are wiping out the livelihood of eight lakh people in Sivakasi", Arunachalam said.


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