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Fire Cracker Factories Sivakasi

Sivakasi, a small town in Tamil Nadu, is home to thousands of firecracker factories accounting for
90 % of the total fireworks produced in India
. The paradigm of manufacture, distribution, consumption and
disposal of fireworks relates to the industrial cycle from the Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard
Most of the stuff we use goes through the lifecycle of extraction, production, distribution,
consumption and disposal. This lifecycle is ridden with environmental and social problems.
Extraction involves mining for the raw materials which further involves exploitation and
displacement of thousands of people. Also, Annie argues that present days Governments are controlled by
corporations. This is clearly visible in the licensing and regulatory mechanism followed by Tamil Nadu
Government. The firecracker manufacturers have to obtain permission from the district magistrate and the
fire department to possess and use sulphur in their manufacturing processes
. But, most of the factories
operate without licenses. According to a PESO official, only four officers monitor nearly thousand factories

who very well know that most of them are unlicensed.
Most of the costs that go into making the stuff are externalised onto poor people and environment.
This is reflected in this case study where most of the production mechanisms are labour intensive. Poor
children from nearby villages are forced to work in these factories. With nearly 45000 child labourers
Sivakasi has one of the largest concentrations of child labourers in the world. The clandestine and
unlicensed factories operating here flout most of the fire safety norms to minimize costs and are responsible
for nearly 30 fire accidents in the last four years
including the disastrous accident of September 5, 2012
which left 38 people dead
Most of the firecrackers used in India come from Sivakasi. Distribution of firecrackers throughout
India is often done in passenger trains clearly violating The Explosives Act. This was evident in the Tamil
Nadu Express fire accident of July 30, 2012 whose cause was found to be the illegal transport of fire
In present economic scenario, people are turned into consumers and are forced to consumemore and
more stuff. As environmentalist R.C.Guha puts it, people consume due to various reasons like personal
needs, social acceptability and the idea of economic growth
. Even in the present case, various social
reasons like religious considerations imposed by the festival of Diwali and also the clause of social
acceptability makes people consume more firecrackers with louder sound and higher light intensity.
It would be rhetorical to state that none of the fire crackers we use are recyclable. These are disposed
of directly into the environment in the form of heat, light and sound. Also these fire crackers produce a lot of
toxic gases and heavy noise causing both noise and air pollution.
Annie Leonard explains that, I want us to recognize that each thing we buy involved all sorts of
resources and labour
. Even we must recognise the wrongs that go into making of fire crackers before
buying them for the festival of Diwali.
News Paper Articles:
6Anon., Chronology of major fire accidents in Sivakasi, The New Indian Express, September 06, 2012, Sunday, (accessed September 27,2012).
8Anon., Firecrackers caused TN Express fire: Inquiry report, Deccan Herald, September 13, 2012, Thursday, (accessed September 27,2012).
9Anon., 38 killed in Sivakasi cracker unit blast, The Hindu, September 05, 2012, Wednesday, (accessed September 27,2012).
Also sourced from
DebanismAchom, Crackers outsourced to illegal factories, The Sunday Guardian, October 3, 2010, Sunday, (accessed September 27,2012).
3Rama Chandra Guha, How Much Should A Person Consume? : Thinking through the Environment, (Berkeley: Berkeley Press, 2006), 285-286.
Online Videos:
1Perf.Annie Leonard, Free Range Studios, Story of Stuff, Story Of Stuff, December 04, 2007, (accessedon August 1, 2012).
Online Articles:
5James Murray White, Mazzy reviews The Story of Stuff, Green Prophet, August 24, 2010, (accesses October 12, 2012).
14 Victoria Johnson, Joanna Hill and Edda Ivan-Smith-Actionaid , Listening to smaller voices: children in an environment of change, sourced in No Kidding, Down To Earth, August 31, 1995, (accessed September 27,2012).
Also sourced from
Veeraraghav.T.M., Kids play with fire, make crackers, CNN-IBN, June 27, 2007, (accessed September 27,2012)
Madhumita Dutta, Festival of noise and pollution, India Together, November, 2001, (accessed September 27,2012).
Anon., Sivakasi: India's dangerous fireworks capital, BBC News India, September 22, 2012, (accessed September 27,2012).
Articles fromReviewed Journals:
4N.Rajathilagam, N.Rajathilagamand A.Azhagurajan, Accident analysis in fireworks industries for the past decade in Sivakasi, International Journal Of Research In Social Sciences 2 (2): ISSN 2249-2496, May, 2012 (accessed September 27,2012).
Court Cases, Judgments, Legal Documents:
2Ministry of Commerce and Industry, GOI, The Explosive Rules, 2008, The Gazette of India, December 29, 2008, (accessed October 12, 2012).
Also sourced from
M.C.Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu, 6 SCC 756 -1996, (accessed September 27, 2012).
Environmental Information System, Ministryof Environment and Forests, GOI, Say No to Crackers and Yes to life!, Green Teacher, (accessed September 27,2012).
Other Sources:
THE STATE OF THE WORLDS CHILDREN 2011, UNICEF, February, 2011, (accessed September 27,2012).

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