Chennai: During the last 12 years, a total of 237 lives have been lost due to accidents in 88 fireworks units located in Sivakasi. The government has tightened its controls on the safety measures installed by the units, said an industry official.
"We have made a study of the accidents that have occurred during the last 12 years. A total of 237 lives have been lost and 200 have been injured in the accidents that occur in the fireworks units," an official of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TNFAMA) told IANS over phone from Sivakasi.
He said most of the accidents happen in small and medium-sized units owing to the casual attitude of the workers.
TNFAMA has around 700 units as its members and the total industry turnover is around Rs.2,000 crore logging an annual growth rate of 10 percent.
Industry officials told IANS that there are a lot of units that do not maintain proper accounts and if that is taken into account the industry size will be much more.
"Accidents in professionally-run units are almost nil and, if at all there is an accident, the casualty will be mostly a single worker," V. Ramamoorthy, managing director at Jubilant Crackers told IANS over phone from Sivakasi.
There are around 200 units in Sivakasi that are run professionally following all safety rules, he said.
Crackers are produced in small rooms with space for not more than four people. The rooms have four doors so that the workers can rush out in case of any emergency.
The small units allegedly employ inexperienced workers during the Diwali season in order to meet the demand, which in turn results in such accidents.
Sivakasi, also known as `kutti` or `mini Japan`, is one of the oldest and biggest firecrackers manufacturing hubs in India.
Nearly 90 percent of the country`s fireworks are made in Sivakasi. And 80 percent of the safety matches are made here.
Low rainfall and dry climate are conduce for this industry to thrive. Some products are also used by the airports to scare away the birds.
Sivakasi is also known as a major offset printing hub rolling out calendars and diaries.