Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Friday said the livelihood of about eight lakh workers involved in the firecracker manufacturing industry in the state was at stake and urged his counterparts in Delhi, Odisha, Rajasthan and Haryana to reconsider the blanket ban on sale of crackers. Stating that the blanket ban is "not reasonable", the Chief Minister said the sale of crackers falling within the norms set by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal may be permitted in their respective states.
In a letter to the Chief Ministers of the four states, a copy of which was released to the media, Stalin pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had a crippling effect on the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector in the country and its impact on Tamil Nadu's economy, which is largely dependent on MSMEs for growth and employment, has been significantly severe. "My government is now in the process of reviving the sector through focussed interventions. The firecracker industry, concentrated around the town of Sivakasi, is one of the most important industrial activities in the state," he explained.
Around eight lakh workers depend on the state's firecracker industry for their livelihood, which is the largest in our country, he pointed out. Stating that the ban imposed by the four Indian states on the sale of firecrackers during this Diwali festival was brought to his attention, the Chief Minister said, "I understand that you have taken this decision based on concerns regarding air pollution."
"I wish to draw your attention to the fact that the Supreme Court has already banned certain categories of polluting firecrackers and now, green crackers with significantly less emissions are being manufactured. Therefore, a blanket ban on firecrackers is not reasonable. Such a ban is not prevalent in other countries," Stalin said.
Moreover, such a ban if imposed by other states also, would lead to the closure of the entire industry, jeopardising the livelihood of about eight lakh people. "You would also appreciate that bursting of firecrackers is an integral part of Indian festivals, especially Diwali. A balanced approach that gives due regard to environment, livelihood and public health is possible and necessary," the Chief Minister said. "I sincerely urge you to kindly reconsider the blanket ban on sale of firecrackers," he added.
He requested that the sale of firecrackers that fall within the norms set by the Supreme Court and the NGT may be permitted in their respective States.