An explosive issue
Between April 7 and 16, the town of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu wore a deserted look.
Those 10 days saw manufacturing units in the hub of India's firecracker industry going on an indefinite strike to protest both the steep increase in the various charges related to manufacturing explosives and the government's inability to slow the import of Chinese incendiaries into the country.
While the industry lost an estimated Rs 15 crore a day during the period, the strike had the desired result - the Union ministry of commerce and industry invited industry representatives for talks on Monday, just three days before the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu on April 24.
The protest over the "User Fees Notice (Explosives)" issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion was withdrawn temporarily by the industry body, the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers' Association (TANFAMA).
At the meeting, officials of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion agreed to follow the old rules for the time being. They told TANFAMA representatives to wait till the elections were over and the model code of conduct was withdrawn for any permanent solution to their grievances over the new rules and enhanced fees.
A participant at the meeting felt that the final fate of the ministry's notification, which according to him is ultra vires, lies with the courts. He said that it was likely the issue would be taken to court once elections are over.
Text: TE Narasimhan, Business Standard
Image courtesy: AFP