Safety at all costs: On implementation of safety protocols in fireworks industry

Governments should ensure implementation of safety protocols in the fireworks industry

There has to be a paradigm shift in the manner an event such as the Kalathur blast is viewed. Generally, any blast is called an accident but such usage unwittingly tends to gloss over the role of those who are responsible for the implementation and the enforcement of safety protocols. There can be no compromise on this count. At the same time, the contribution of the firecracker industry to the country’s economy, especially that of Tamil Nadu, has to be acknowledged. The sector employs eight lakh people, directly and indirectly, in a backward region of the State with no assured irrigation. However, this does not absolve the industry of the responsibility to the life and the health of workers and the larger sections of society. In any investigation of the event, the authorities concerned should seriously consider translating into action some of the suggestions made by an eight-member committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal after a blast in the district that killed over 20 people in February 2021. Headed by former judge of the Punjab and Haryana, and Madras High Courts K. Kannan, the panel had suggested that the Explosives Act be amended to make punishments more stringent than now, employing only certified persons for operations including mixing, filling of chemicals and the making of colour pellets, and using drones for surveillance of various units. There is no dearth of ideas to improve the working of the industry but what is required is that the authorities, both at the levels of Central and State Governments, should ensure the enforcement of safety protocols.

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