THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 25 March 2020 (Death by fireworks: on violation of rules in hazardous industries (The Hindu))



Death by fireworks: on violation of rules in hazardous industries (The Hindu)



Mains Paper 3:Economy 
Prelims level:  Hazardous industries
Mains level:Challenges to the violations of rules by hazardous industries

Context:

  • Unsafe working conditions and improper handling of inflammable raw materials continue to endanger lives in the fireworks industry.

Background:

  • Last week, 11 workers were charred at a fireworks unit in Tamil Nadu’s Virudhunagar district. 
  • Police data show that in the past decade, at least 239 people have perished and over 265 injured in 142 accidents in fireworks units. 
  • Such tragedies have not been confined to Sivakasi, deemed the fireworks capital of the world, where most such units are concentrated. 

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A major threat: 

  • Illegal cracker units functioning in a few other parts of the State have also led to loss of a significant number of lives. 
  • In and around Sivakasi, the manufacturing of firecrackers in makeshift unlicensed units, rough handling of chemicals by untrained and unskilled workers, spillage or overloading of chemicals during the filling process, and working outside permitted areas have been identified as major causes for past accidents. 
  • In the recent tragedy too, the workers were engaged in manufacturing ‘fancy aerial crackers’ for which the unit did not have a licence. Preliminary investigations suggest that mishandling of chemicals could have triggered an explosion.
  • Occasional accidents in an industry dealing in explosive materials may seem inevitable. 
  • But the probability of such mishaps can certainly be reduced by adopting safe work practices, complying with rules and through cohesive monitoring by Central and State licensing and enforcement authorities. 
  • Crackdowns against violators have been few and far between despite illegal sub-leasing of works to unlicensed cottage units becoming a widely acknowledged practice in the industry. 

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Steps needed to be taken to address the loopholes: 

  • It also found a lack of coordination between Central and State authorities dealing with the regulation of fireworks industries. 
  • The committee recommended making sub-leasing of works by licensed units a cognisable penal offence; mandated inter-safety distances between sheds covered with earthen mounds; and provision of a smoothened pathway with a width of 1.5 metres, as part of industrial safety measures. 
  • Ground reports suggest these recommendations continue to be ignored, with sub-leasing of works still rampant. Regulators understandably complain of a lack of manpower in checking violations. 
  • The number of players has exponentially grown since the 1980s with 1,070 licensed units employing an estimated 10 lakh workers now. 

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Conclusion: 

  • The safety is non-negotiable. The governments must walk the extra mile to enforce rules in a hazardous industry and prosecute violators. The industry too must self-regulate in its own interest. 

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females as per the Human Resource Development ministry, consider the following statements:
1. Additionally, as per AISHE 2018-19, females constitute 48.6% of the total enrolment in higher education and the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females in higher education at 26.4% is higher than the national GER of boys at 26.3%. 
2. The Gender Parity Index (GPI) has increased during the last 5 years, from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1 in 2018-19. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer....................................

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Mains Questions:
Q.1)Do you think the violations of rules in hazardous industries can be tolerated only at the cost of human lives? Elucidate. 


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