|Sivakasi shuts down|
Workers and political parties along with traders stepped up their protest against the “uncertainty” looming large over the fireworks industry on Wednesday following a public interest litigation that seeks a nation-wide ban on fireworks.
Over 2,000 shops and commercial establishments in the towns of Sivakasi and Tiruthangal remained closed as a mark of solidarity with the All India Federation of Fireworks Associations that has also indefinitely closed down all the fireworks units across the nation since December 26.
All shops including hotels, medical shops and vegetable and fruits markets in Sivakasi remained closed.
Hundreds of protesters participated in a demonstration in which former DMK Minister and Aruppukottai MLA K.K.S.S.R. Ramachandran and former CPI MP P. Lingam took part.
Mr. Ramachandran said that the Centre and State governments should take steps to ensure that the PIL against crackers is rejected at the admission stage.
“Crackers are not burst every day. It is used only during celebrations and its usage does not extend beyond a day. While cigarette and liquor that cause harm to human lives are allowed to be consumed every day, there was no logic in banning crackers used occasionally,” he said.
The fireworks industry that is predominantly present in Virudhunagar district employs over 8 lakh workers. “They would be rendered jobless if crackers are banned,” he said.
Mr. Lingam alleged that the present crisis faced by fireworks units was a conspiracy by the corporate sector to cripple small-scale industries. Some vested interests have approached the courts citing the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, seeking a nation-wide ban on manufacture, sale and use of crackers on the grounds of air pollution.
“Cracker is part and parcel of all kinds of celebrations. It does not cause any air pollution. The Centre should delist the fireworks industry from the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Rules, so that the industry gets a permanent relief from such litigations,” he said. He also wanted the State government to take efforts to safeguard the industry and lakhs of people employed in it.
Thousands of workers affiliated to the CITU took out a rally from the Kamaraj statue here up to Satchiyapuram. The workers were led by its leader A.K.