An accident in a firecracker factory is not child’s play. On Friday, the 12th of February, there was one of the worst accident in a firecracker factory in sattur near Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. Sattur is a small town near Sivakasi where the firecracker business is very common.
However, more than 17 people including women died and 35 were injured. As there are 100% injured cases, the death toll may increase. The firecracker factory accident witnessed a series of blasts in sattur, near Sivakasi, in the virudhunagar district of Tamilnadu. More than half of the deceased have been identified. The blast was triggered due to friction while handling chemicals.
Soon after the explosion 10 fire extinguishing vans rushed to the spot. Contrarily due to the presence of chemicals, they cannot proceed further. The building collapsed. The main reason for the explosion is the factory did not follow safety rules.
Another accident in sivakasi firecracker factory on 25th february 2021, in the same month of sattur incident. The accident happened while making fancy crackers. Virudhunagar collector rushed to the spot and said three women and one men were killed in the accident.
Condition of workers in Sivakasi
There are many illegal units along with permitted ones. They have more than four lakh employees. The workers work for daily or monthly wages. The work procedure normally followed is
- The women roll the cardboard sheets.
- The men coat them with aluminum dust. They fill them with a mix of chemicals like potassium nitrate and sulfur.
There are no gloves or masks for the workers. There is a high risk of respiratory and skin diseases for the workers.
Since the work involves combustible materials these factories don’t have windows. There is no electricity provided. Many factories are illegally indulging children to work for about 10 to 12 hours a day.
Sivakasi; The firecracker hub of India
Firecrackers are small explosives filled with chemicals. When ignited they explode with a heavy sound. Also, Firecrackers were first developed in China.
Sivakasi is also known as small Japan. It manufactures 90% of total firecrackers in India. Moreover, they export firecrackers to various countries. There are less rainfall and dry weather condition throughout the year in Sivakasi. This condition goes well with firecracker manufacturing.
Matchbox and printing industry is also famous in Sivakasi. More than 2 lakh people in and around Sivakasi rely on these industries. In addition, there is a turn over of about 2000 crore Indian rupees every year in this field.
History of Sivakasi firecrackers
In the early 20th century Mr. A. Shanmuga Nadar and Mr. Iya Nadar set up a firecracker industry in Sivakasi. However, they started manufacturing the then-popular sparklers which were originally from UK and Germany. Due to the central excise duty on matches, the firecracker production extended.
During World War II time, there was a ban on firecrackers import in India. Hence, Sivakasi got its peak in production. And after the end of World War II, there was a high resource of raw material. Thus, The firecracker industry received a boom. The prominent producers of the industry since then are
- National firecracker
- Kaliswari firecracker
- Standard firecracker
Reason for fire accident in firecracker industry
All processes in the firecracker industry are manual. Labors handling chemicals in powdered form. If any friction happens due to the mishandling of chemicals, it leads to accidents and loss of lives.
In fancy crackers making, correct drying time and ventilation are mandatory. In truth, small negligence will lead to accidents.
Other reasons may include
- Rough handling of chemicals
- Usage of banned chemicals
- Unsafe disposal of unused chemicals
- Further, filing extra chemicals than required
- Using a huge amount of chemicals than required in the workplace
- Not cleaning spilled chemicals
- Drying of crackers in ground
Preventive measures in firecracker industry
- Firstly, there must be proper education about the work and risk involved. They must provide a protective shield with gloves head caps etc. There must be less chemical exposure to the body. Use rubber mats to cover the floor.
- Secondly, the distance between mixing and filling sheds shall be 18 meters
- Thirdly, Use platforms to dry the chemical not inside the factory.
- Must stock the only Chemical required for the work foreman and supervisors should be qualified according to their job specifications. They must be inadequate numbers.
Not only that
- The company should increase the salary of workers.
- There must be proper commission on inquiries regarding accidents and regular inspections
- Incorporation of engineering methods must be done. Replacement of machines in place of humans must be done.
- Proper fire extinguishers must be available in abundant numbers.
- The government must take care of the industry. It should instruct them to follow the safety precautions.
Relief fund for the affected people of firecracker accident in Sattur, Sivakasi
President Ram Nath Govind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamilnadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Governor Banwarilal Purohit, and congress MP Rahul Gandhi shared their condolences towards the incident.
PM Modi and CM Palaniswami announced ex-gratia of two lakh to the deceased. Besides 3 lakh to the kin(s) of deceased. Tamilnadu CM announced 1 lakh for each severely injured.
Nonetheless, it is one of the topmost profitable businesses in India, the employees are having a nightmare every day at work. But they have no other way for daily wages and to run life. The workers do a heavy workload on low wages with extended hours of work per day.
Author: Indhirani K
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Featured image credit:https://www.thehindu.com/