Chennai, March 20 (IANS) The uncertainty hanging over the future of the Rs 6,000 crore fireworks industry is expected to burst as a major campaign plank for the opposition parties during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in the Virudhunagar constituency of Tamil Nadu.
“There are about eight lakh workers who are employed in this industry. Their income was affected owing to the closure of the firecracker units for two months after 2018 Diwali.
“The units started functioning only late February,” P.Balasubramanian, a CPM party official in Sivakasi told IANS.
The Indian firecracker industry is mainly concentrated in Sivakasi with 90 per cent of the country’s firecracker manufacturing happening here.
According to Balasubramanian, there is simmering anger in the hearts of people about the loss of earning and the surrounding uncertainty of their future employment.
Bulk of the firecrackers manufactured in the country may be burst during the Diwali season. But the firecracker manufacturing is not a single day process, it is a year long process.
The Supreme Court hearing the case on banning the firecrackers had laid down conditions for bursting during Diwali 2018.
The court also banned use of Barium salts in the production of fireworks, manufacture and sale of stringed crackers and e-commerce sites from selling the firecrackers.
The firecracker manufacturers were also upset at the attitude of the central government towards their industry.
“The automobile industry was given sufficient lead time to reduce the vehicle emissions. But in the case of firecracker units no such buffer time was given,” a manufacturer not wanting to be quoted told IANS.
Queried whether the issue will echo in the Lok Sabha elections, he said: “I am not sure as the units are functioning now. Further the Supreme Court bench that is hearing case now said it cannot kill jobs of poor workers in the firecracker units.”
In February this year the mood of the industry players was such that they wanted to boycott the Lok Sabha polls.
However, political parties are sure to rake up the issue as the firecracker units are spread across the Virdhunagar constituency and the number of workers employed in the industry is huge.
Further the future of other industries dependent on the firecracker sector and the people employed there are also at stake and political parties will surely take up the issue with the people, said Balasubramanian.
According to him, the Virudhunagar Lok Sabha seat has been allotted to DMDK by the ruling AIADMK, while the DMK has given the seat to Congress.
The BJP heading the central government is an alliance partner of AIADMK.