Chennai, Apr 12 UNI | 4 months ago

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today drew the attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh towards the issue that issuance of User Fee Notification to fireworks manufacturers was violation of Model Code of Conduct which is in operation for the ongoing Lok Sahha polls.

In a strongly-worded letter to the Prime Minister, copy of which was released to the media here, Ms Jayalalithaa contended that the notification increased the cost to fireworks manufacturers '27 times'.

She alleged that the Centre was encouraging import of 'cheap Chinese made fireworks', thereby destroying Tamil Nadu's fireworks industries.

She demanded that the user free regulation be withdrawn immediately and urged the Prime Minister to take up the issue.

Ms Jayalalithaa said in her letter 'I write to bring to your notice a very emergent problem which has affected a very important, employment intensive industry in Tamil Nadu-the fireworks industry. As you are aware, Tamil Nadu supplies more than 80 per cent of the total fireworks sold in the Country and the industry provides employment to lakhs of persons in the state.'

'The entire fireworks industry in the state was on indefinite strike from April 9 protesting against certain measures taken by the Centre. The industry is gravely affected due to lack of effective action by the Government of India to prevent the smuggling of Chinese made fireworks into India, which are unsafe due to use of a cheaperCraw material, chlorate, which is banned in India:, she pointed out.

She alleged this would affect domestic employment and raise serious safety and environmental issues. 'The Ministry of Home Affairs had written to all state governments on October 17 last highlighting the danger of smuggled Chinese fireworks containing Potassium Chlorate and the need to deal strictly with persons found in possession of such fireworks', she said.

However, the inclusion of fees for licensing import of Class 7 explosives, which are fireworks, in the User Fee Notice (Explosives) on March 20 this year, has raised a serious apprehension that PESO which has so far not granted any import licences, would in fact facilitate easier imports of fireworks.

In their representations, the fireworks industry expressed apprehension that a new post has been created in the PESO, Nagpur office to process the applications for import and export of explosives and fireworks, she said.

She alleged that the Centre was not acting strongly against smuggling of unsafe and cheap explosives from China.

It was also acting against the interests of domestic manufacturers of fireworks who were mostly in Tamil Nadu, particularly in the drought prone Southern districts.

The User Free Notice for explosives has raised the effective rates steeply. In certain cases, the increase is very high.

The explosives storage license fee has been increased from a flat fee of Rs 15,000 per year to Rs 4 lakh per year for storage of 2 lakh kG of fireworks, an increase of 27 times, she pointed out.

The fee for renewal of foreman (competency) license has increased from Rs 100 to Rs 3000, an increase of 30 times.

The fireworks industry also makes a justified demand for a separate set of rules to govern fireworks as distinct from explosives, since Explosives Rules are meant to gove rn high explosives and are too stringent for fireworks, Ms Jayalalithaa argued in the letter.

(Posted on 12-04-2014)