Jayalalithaa flays centre over smuggling of Chinese fireworks

Chennai:Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has charged the central government with not acting against the smuggling of unsafe Chinese fireworks and also for violating the model code of conduct by steeply hiking various licence fees.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday, the text of which was released to the media here Saturday, Jayalalithaa said: “The (fireworks) industry is gravely affected due to the lack of effective action by the Government of India to prevent the smuggling of Chinese made fireworks into India, which are more unsafe due to use of a cheaper raw material, chlorate, which is banned in India.”

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She said the imports not only affect the domestic employment, but it also raises serious safety issues and environmental hazards.

Jayalalithaa also charged the central government with not “acting sufficiently strongly against smuggling of unsafe and cheap explosives from China”.

She said the centre was acting against the interests of domestic manufacturers of fireworks who are mostly in Tamil Nadu, in particular in the drought prone southern districts of the state.

She voiced her opposition to the steep hike in the licence fee for storage of explosives from Rs.15,000 per year to Rs.400,000 per year for storage of 200,000 kg of fireworks.

“The fee for renewal of foreman (competency) license has increased from Rs.100 to Rs.3,000, an increase of 30 times,” she added.

She said Tamil Nadu supplies more than 80 percent of the total fireworks sold in the country and provides employment to several lakh people.

Jayalalithaa said the industry is on strike April 9 onwards protesting against the centre’s certain actions.

Stressing that the issue needs to be sensitively dealt with, Jayalalithaa also expressed her surprise at hiking the licence fee rates after the announcement of general elections.

“Not only is this an act bereft of any understanding of the etiquette of parliamentary democracy, it also constitutes a violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” Jayalalithaa said.