Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Tamil Nadu: Firecracker Industry Violations Kill Workers, Low Compensation Adds to Misery

The CITU has urged the government to enforce the implementation of laws for the protection of workers and to provide appropriate compensation to bereaved families.
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Sasikala, a mother of three boys, all under 10 years old, was blown into pieces in the firecracker unit accident that killed 12 workers on March 22, 2023, in Valathottam village in Kancheepuram district. Her husband, Sakthivel, still remembers the trauma the family went through following the devastating accident.

Stocking firecrackers and chemicals beyond the permissible level was cited as the reason for the accident. The company had stocked large quantities of crackers for pre-booked orders for the festivals in nearby temples.

Despite several such accidents across Tamil Nadu, pointing to the blatant violation of rules, actions taken to ensure the safety of the workers are few and far between. The unit was functioning during the daytime in summer, though it was prohibited to prevent accidents.

The government of Tamil Nadu announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh each to the kin of the deceased. The Union government’s promised aid of Rs 2 lakh has reportedly not been provided yet.

The families, when they sought the intervention of the district administration to obtain financial aid, were shocked to understand that the administration was not aware of the announcement itself. Additionally, the firecracker company that employed them had not provided any financial aid to the affected families.


"My wife died on the spot. She had been working there for five months for a daily wage of Rs 300", Sakthivel told NewsClick. 

She had been supporting her family since her husband was limited to doing menial jobs to meet their livelihood expenses. The same was true for the other 11 workers who lost their lives.

The accident reduced the factory to debris, scattering the dilapidated body parts of the victims several hundred meters away. Approximately 27 people were working in the unit, despite the rules stipulating that only seven people should have been employed.

In this recurring tragedy within the firecracker industry, seven men and five women lost their lives. Safety norm violations are highlighted when accidents occur but are often deprioritised when other issues arise. The state government announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 3 lakh to the families and Rs 1 lakh to those injured.

"The company has been operating in the village for the past 30 years and holds a license to operate until 2024. However, the workers have continuously alleged violations of rules, including retaining excessive stock and employing more workers," stated Sivaprakasam, the Kancheepuram district joint secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), speaking to NewsClick.

According to reports, the company had been accumulating stocks for pyrotechnics during festivals in the neighboring villages, including famous temples in Kanchipuram. Despite the scorching heat across the state during the summer, the company continued to amass these stocks.

"They had amassed a massive amount of stock and hired numerous people to fulfill the orders they had for the temple festivals. The accident occurred due to a violation of laws. Additionally, the company had not even provided insurance for the workers," Sivaprakasam explained.

Though the minister for revenue and disaster management pointed to the greed for profit by the owners leading to accidents, the trade unions have alleged insufficient action from the government. 


The families have received the ex-gratia payment announced by the state government, but they are still awaiting the same from the Union government. The CITU approached the district administration to ensure that the ex-gratia reaches the bereaved families.

"We have received the compensation announced by the state government, but there is no information regarding the announcement made by the union government," stated Sakthivel. Unfortunately, the district administration appears to be unaware of the announcement made by the Union government. "We had to share the news published in newspapers with the district administration. It has already been two months since the accident," added Sivaprakasam.

The CITU had demanded that the state government provide jobs to one member of each family who lost their loved ones. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] provided a relief amount of Rs 10,000 to the families and urged the state government to increase the ex-gratia payment to the families.

The accidents continue despite repeated demands from the trade unions to ensure the safety of workers and frequent inspections by the relevant departments. In the most recent incident, two workers were killed in Sivakasi in May while they were involved in the manufacturing of flower pot crackers.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram