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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 16 February, 2021

  • 4 Min Read

Disaster management- Fireworks accident at Virudhunagar

Accidents at the fireworks unit in Virudhunagar

Context

  • The latest accident at a fireworks unit in Virudhunagar, at last count, 20 lives have perished, while 28 workers are in hospital.

Major fireworks Industries in Tamil Nadu are at:

  • Virudhunagar, Cuddalore ,Sivakasi and Madurai

Reasons of accidents at fireworks Industries

  • Gross violation of norms governing the hazardous industry .
  • Human error in handling explosive substances.
  • Unlicensed units that have mushroomed in and outside Sivakasi mostly escape scrutiny till explosions occur.
  • A greater concern is the illegal sub-leasing of contracts for manufacturing crackers by licensed units.
  • Sub-leasing of works to several persons.
    • The very nature of work in a hazardous industry makes sub-leasing a byword for safety compromise.
    • It leads to conversion of every shed in a manufacturing unit into a ‘factory’ in itself with inflammable chemicals stored all over.
    • Consequently, the limit on workers to be deployed is violated resulting in crowding in each shed.
  • Untrained workers and the piece-rate system, which induces people to race to produce more units per day, have also caused accidents.
  • Shortage of labour has prompted the industry to hire new recruits with limited skills.

Steps taken by the government

  • On the ground there is only short-term action:
    • registration of cases, arrests, identification of causes, token inspections, issuance of warnings and safety advisories.
  • While the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) offers training for workers.
  • A decade ago Parliament was informed that automation of the hazardous manufacturing process would be undertaken.

Way forward

  • Periodic inspections at factories, sustained crackdown and stringent penal action against violators are non-negotiable.
  • For this, Central and State governments must provide the needed manpower for enforcement agencies as the industry has grown manifold.
  • A sustained political push for labour reforms and technological innovations within the industry is also essential.

Source: TH


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