• Permanent Fire Cracker Ban

    "SC should take suo moto cognisance of the facts, that air & noise pollutions are hazards all over India not just Delhi NCR"

    Vasudha Rao

    October 22, 2017

     

    The Supreme Court has banned sale of fire crackers in Delhi NCR.
    The news item then narrates that many will lose jobs as they are employed by the fire cracker industry. 85 % of fire crackers are manufactured at Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu. As per the report, more than 3 lakhs employees are employed in making fire crackers & nearly 5 lakhs in ancillary industries like packaging, transport etc.

    The report by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in 2013 stated that kids as young as 5 years old are employed for nearly 12 hours for making fire crackers. And for all this labour, the kids are paid measly amounts of Rs. 30-50/-per day. The children work in most dangerous conditions in tiny sheds with no safety gear .They are filling flower pots, fuses, paper pipes etc. The clothes of children are covered with chemicals as they make the fire crackers. These chemicals cause asthma, eye infections, tuberculosis, etc in 90 % of the child labour. And as children work unsupervised, with dangerous chemicals like potassium &  sodium nitrates, zinc, magnesium, iron, steel, aluminium, etc. there are many accidents which cripple & or kill children.

    The manufacturers state, that of late, child labour is non-existent in manufacture of fire crackers. Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi says that at least 1 lakh kids are employed in fire cracker industries spread across  Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jaipur, Orissa & Tamil Nadu. So, there is an equality of treatment towards children on nearly a Pan Indian basis. Because, in other industries, in the remaining states, child labour is employed as well. To name a few, silk, glass bangles, carpet weaving etal.

    The effect of all this, is that adults don’t get employed & even if, they get employed, their wages are less than the minimum prescribed for that industry. Fire Cracker employers say that profits are eroding because of the SC ban. They are right, because how can such stupendous profits be let off where employees who are children, can be paid peanuts & who will not unionise themselves, no matter, what dangerous working conditions prevail!

    Manufacturers would have us believe, that children who are employed were worse off than when non employed .If that is true, then why employ kids which is illegal. In fact, the laws prohibit employment of children below age 14-18 years in any industry .And, in fire cracker industry, by default, children below the age of 14-18 years are employed. The simple reason being, by the time, they turn 14-18, the children have become unemployable because of having suffered some accident / s which has either crippled them for life and or cost them their lives!

    This is how the population growth can be kept under check. And with it, poverty as well. Because, poor children only are employed in such hazardous industry/ s. In effect, employment of child labour serves  so many social causes !

    Fire crackers cause pollution. Noise as also air pollution.And after crackers have been burst, the debris is scattered all over the place/ s. This affects all of us. Those favouring fire crackers are arguing that vehicles cause annual pollution whereas crackers cause a week’s pollution at the most, especially during festivals, weddings, etal. Next, vehicle manufacturers & manufacturers of fire crackers will unite and fight any bans put up for improving quality of life of general public. Because, the manufacturers are up against, what they see as a downsizing to their upward mobility in life!

    And then there are those. who say that bursting fire crackers is a tradition. Bursting fire crackers during Deepavali started after fire crackers were invented in China. Patriots could do well to go with the ban on fire crackers as this would mean that the ban is in line with anything and everything associated with China. And money spent on fire crackers is money going up in smoke… literally & in fact.

    Culture flourishes if we embrace better practices & give up those which are dangerous to humanity .When we discard outmoded traditions & customs, will we all grow & prosper.

    SC should take suo moto cognisance of the facts, that air & noise pollutions are hazards all over India not just Delhi NCR. An outright Pan Indian ban for ever, on fire crackers would make the future shine brighter   for our children ensuring safety (from being employed in fire cracker industry) & bereft of air & noise pollution. After all,” We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children “


     

    Vaundhara Rao is a law graduate from Government Law College,Mumbai.

    First published in Countercurrents.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.

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