The raging debate over the ban on firecrackers in several states continued with BJP national general secretary CT Ravi on Sunday questioning the rationale and flagging concerns about other pollutants.
The social media was abuzz with many, including Mr Ravi and Congress MP Manickam Tagore, highlighting the plight of lakhs of workers employed in the fireworks industry’s national hub of Sivakasi in southern Tamil Nadu.
Several states had banned sale and use of firecrackers this year citing the COVID-19 pandemic and environment concerns with the decision coming as a blow to the industry.
A day after the nation celebrated the festival amid the ban, Mr Ravi, the in-charge of the party for Tamil Nadu, said about ten lakh people were dependent on the cracker industry.
“Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is where Crackers are manufactured & nearly 10 lakh people are employed. If activist Govts or tribunals want to ban crackers for #Deepavali, they should ban for all purposes now. No pontificating cricketer or actor should celebrate weddings with Crackers,” he tweeted.
To a twitter user, who pointed to the plight of workers and the need for alternative employment for them in view of ban and curbs vis-a-vis firecrackers, the Saffron party leader said he agreed with that view.
“I agree. Those in Sivakasi dependent on Crackers industry should be provided with alternate jobs. Only then should crackers be banned across Bharat. Also, other activities that involve mass killing of animals, cutting trees & causing damage to environment should also be banned,” Mr Ravi, who was here days ago to lead a “Vetrivel yatra,” that was not allowed by the government citing the coronavirus pandemic, said.
In another tweet response, Mr Ravi said he was not for banning crackers at all.
“As a Hindu, I don’t want anyone interfering or lecturing us about how to celebrate Our Festivals. I am against arbitrary ban on Crackers that affects the livelihood of lakhs of Tamil Makkal (people) dependent on Crackers industry in Sivakasi”.
The topic “Sivakasi” trended on Twitter and many users of social media, while discussing firecrackers and pollution highlighted that the livelihood of lakhs of people at Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district hinged on the fireworks industry.
The National Green Tribunal, on November 9, imposed a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) till November 30 midnight.
It had also said the direction of complete ban will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November 2019 was in “poor” and above categories.
The NGT, however, had said that in cities or towns where air quality is “moderate” or below, only green crackers be sold.
Tamil Nadu did not ban sale or bursting of firecrackers for deepavali but restricted its use to two hours.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami had also written to his counterparts of some states which banned firecrackers to reconsider the decision.
Police said they have registered cases against those who burst crackers violating the two-hour time limit on Saturday.
In the city alone, as many as 428 cases were registered this year as against 204 last year, they said.
Several social media users protested against the ban on use of firecrackers citing pollution, questioning why it was only for a day on Deepavali.
They questioned what they called the “silence” of activists about other causes of pollution throughout the year.
Some twitter users even claimed the bid to “destroy # Sivakasi” is to help China, which is noted for its fancy firecrackers and tagged some reports claiming that the neighbouring country “accounts for 94 per cent of US fireworks imports.”
A number of users tweeted using the hashtag “Save #Sivakasi #VocalForLocal.”
Senior Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said such a ban should be imposed well in advance.
“Have always maintained, if you want to ban firecrackers. Announce it a day after Diwali for the next Diwali. It saves traders/sellers/manufacturers a whole year of not having to prepare for businesses they will never be able to do,” he tweeted.
Mr Tagore, Congress MP from Virudhunagar, shared a report on cause of pollution in Delhi which did not feature firecrackers as a contributory factor.
Sarcastically, he said on his twitter handle,”Kindly find Sivakasi #Firecrackers in the list of Pollutants in Delhi but blame it for all others mistakes, is it fair ??
“Sivakasi only have the talent and knowledge to compete China on #Fireworks industry but Ministers of Modi Sarkar never supports Sivakasi but ran hashtag #Local4Vocal.”
“Japan skies lit up with fireworks to brighten mood amid coronavirus…but in our India where Our Sivakasi manufactures Fireworks We have fight to stop lies and spread truth,” he said.
Also, in his twitter handle he dismissed claims of child labour in Sivakasi as completely false, baseless and unfounded.
The social media was also flooded with claims and counter claims on vested interests working behind getting firecrackers from Sivakasi banned for deepavali.
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