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Eerie silence engulfs Sivakasi as fireworks manufacturers shut shop

16th April 2014

Courtesy: The Hindu

Eerie silence engulfs Sivakasi as fireworks manufacturers shut shop

The country-s bustling cracker capital, Sivakasi, went into silent mode on Tuesday as hundreds of fireworks units observed bandh protesting against the "Chinese intrusion" and abnormal increase in explosives licence fee.

As many as 843 cracker manufacturing factories and the allied businesses were shut down for the day raising concerns over the very survival of Sivakasi.

Manufacturers, workers and general public congregated in large numbers on the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) premises here early in the morning, suspending production of fireworks for the day.

While the fireworks manufacturers have urged the Centre to immediately revoke and withdraw the order issued in March hiking the licence fee from Rs.15,000 to Rs.4 lakh, they also condemned the illegal import and smuggling of crackers from China.

Expressing solidarity to the striking Sivakasi cracker industry, the general secretary of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) Vaiko has said that he will make all-out efforts to save Sivakasi and protect the livelihood of lakhs of workers depending on fireworks industry.

“I am closely associated with the fireworks industry and know their hardships. Sivakasi crackers are famous across the country and it earned a distinction for itself. It enjoys monopoly in crackers and that position must be safeguarded,” Mr. Vaiko said.

“What was the UPA doing?”

The MDMK chief questioned what was the UPA government doing in New Delhi when containers of crackers were being smuggled illegally into India from China. “This issue will be taken up with NDA’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the new government will have to reverse the decision to hike the licence fee for fireworks units,” he added.

A. P. Selvaraj, president, TANFAMA, has said that 36 associations and trade bodies have rallied behind the "save Sivakasi" campaign and they are vehemently opposing the import/smuggling of crackers from China since it is a threat to livelihood.

He has appealed to crackers units, match factories and allied units in printing and packaging to give national-level support for Sivakasi to retain its position.

Posters with messages “no work because of illegal cheap unsafe Chinese fireworks,” “chase away Chinese intrusion” and “save Indian fireworks” were pasted at the venue of hunger strike.

Fireworks units and several shops remained closed for the day in and around Sivakasi.

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