Prohibit Production and Use of FIRE CRACKER
Petitioning: Central Government, all Indian State Government and Indian Public
Petitioner: Karan Goyal started on February 19, 2016
This petition is for the prohibition of use of fire crackers in India. Everyone knows the Importance of Diwali and use of Fire Crackers. But is there anyone who can make relation between fire crackers and Diwali. There is no relation between these terms according to the history. Fire Crackers are in all way dangerous for Humankind and Living Creatures. There is no single benefit in the use of the fire Crackers. Here is the explanation the truth behind the manufacturing of cheap fire Crackers. I beg to all, please if you care for children please do not use fire Crackers.
India well known for its FESTIVALS, DIWALI AND DUSSHERA. These are to main festivals among Indian Hindu and are enjoyed almost by most of the Indians. Origin of the festival ways back to 5000 years ago, when Lord Ram killed Raavan and came to his state.
But today this festival has taken a drastic form. Festival's origin was happiness but why the use of crackers is there.
Crackers Manufacturing In Sivakasi
Sivakasi is a small municipal town in Ramanathapuram district. In the immediate vicinity of the town are two other municipal areas, Thiruthangal and Sattur. It is famous for three types of industries – fireworks, match sticks and printing. 90% of India’s fireworks is produced here. There are nearly 450 fireworks factories in Sivakasi employing almost 40,000 workers directly and about 1 lakh indirectly such as paper tube making, wire cutting, box making in the country side. Due to lack of modern machines child labour is extensively used. Economic factor is also one of reasons responsible for child labour. Poverty forces parents to send their children to work in these industries. Employers take advantage of their economic condition and force them to work at low wages. According to official Harban Singh’s report which was conducted in 1976, in spite of working 12 hours a day younger children aged 4 – 10 earn an average of Rs. 2 per day. The older ones get maximum of Rs. 6 -7 per day. According to a magazine published by The Hindu in april 29-may 12, 2000, children earn around Rs. 20-30 per day. Talking about the working conditions, according to sources children are taken to industries like animals in buses filling almost 150-200 children in a bus. And they have to leave their house as early as 3a.m. in the morning and come back at 9p.m. at night. There are agents to make sure that they get up and go for work. Some children stay at home and work. Even they have to work for long hours. According to a magazine Sumathi age 11 of Ammapatti village rolls 2300 paper pipes a day for just Rs. 20 though she had been working for a year in a firewoks unit. Also Chellaiyan age 12 working in a factory in anaikuttam village earns Rs. 30 though working 12 hours a day. Expecting them to think about their health, education and personal growth at this situation is impossible.
Education is nowhere in their life. They are unable to think beyond their food. It’s a fact that children are the future of any nation or community. If this condition of children prevails what can be expected for a country. According to International Labour Organization (ILO), if child labour will be banned and all children get proper education, world’s total income would be raised by nearly 22% over 20 years, which accounts for more than $4 trillion. Banning child labour will help in boosting the economy of a country. But the situation here is worse. Most working children in Sivakasi have not been to school. According to a sample survey conducted in 16 factories covering 4,181 children, 3,323 (79.48%) are illiterate ; 474 children (11.34%) were educated upto primary school level. Dropouts were 384 (9.2%).
Health is very important. And children working in these factories suffer a lot due to the hazardous working conditions. Also they don’t have enough time and money to spend on health issues. Filling their stomach is their prime goal. Hence by the time they grow up they lose their health and are no longer like other normal people of their age. Asthma and TB are prevalent among 90 per cent of them who are involved in gun powder filling and are directly in contact with the chemical ingredients of crackers and matches. These workers usually do not wear any protective clothes and their whole skin can be seen covered with the chemicals such as sulphur, aluminium powder and gun powder. “Snake Tablet” – one type of firework, which uses nitric acid, causes skin diseases. Working on this type of firework is considered to be highly dangerous for workers.
The work children do from the early stage of their life can affect them in several ways. The following are some of the affects on children, positive on the left side and negative on the right.
Hence child labour should be removed soon to ensure basic rights of every child. It hinders their personality development.
Despite many laws framed for the children to protect them from the injustice done to them, not much progress has been seen. Laws are only made but practically it is not being followed.
The major domestic national laws include:
· Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
· Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933.
· Factories Act, 1948.
· Bidi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966.
· Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.
· Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of
· Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
· Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
· Plantation Labour Act, 1950.
· Apprentices Act, 1961.
· Shops and Establishment Act, 1961.
· Shops and Commercial Establishment Act.
· The Moter Transport Workers Act, 1952.
· The Mines Act, 1952.
· The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.
The main reason for the still existing child labour may be corruption. Also child labour contributes a lot in the economy of a country especially for a developing and under developed countries. So removing child labour is really difficult in these countries though loss is for short duration. Removal of child labour ensures good future economy. Many NGOs have come up to fight for child labour and hence then on some positive progress has been seen. A NGO in delhi rescued around 450 children and helped them in rehabilliation. And then on child labour rescue is on full swing. But until government takes some real initiative it is not going to improve. Hence for the good future of our country government has to be responsible.
Blast in Industry
As many of us prepare to greet the festival of lights with sweets, rangolis and most likely firecrackers, a blast at a firecracker manufacturing unit at East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh left almost a dozen dead, including children, on Monday morning, while some battled serious burns. This brings the issue of child labour in cracker units to focus again.
The unit, a one-room affair with 15 to 20 people working to deliver in time for the festival, caught fire due to a friction leading to a blast, informed Srinivas Reddy, Additional superintendent of police (Administration), Kakinada.
"This was an accident, and 11 people have been found dead, and seven people are in the hospital. Of the deceased, seven are women, and so are nine of the injured. Some of them barely escaped the blast because they had gone out on some errand," said Reddy. When asked about the presence of children, Reddy said that there was only one woman aged about 16 years, and that he could not comment on the presence of children so soon.
The problem of child labour in fireworks industry comes out of the closet every time there is a ghastly incident as this. In 2011, a total of 14 children lost their lives in incidents in Titucorin and Sivakasi at Virudhnagar district of Tamil Nadu, a hot and dusty region notorious for rampant child labour and for claiming the lives of scores of children at the various firecracker manufacturing units situated there. In 2012, 38 children lost their lives at a factory in Mudalipatty. In the last 12 years, there have been 88 accidents in which 237 people have lost their lives in these firecracker factories.
Almost 70% of the country's firecrackers, including matches, are produced in Sivakasi. By 2011, there were about 9,500 firecracker units and 500 matches units in Sivakasi accounting for about 90% of India's crackers and 75% of matches output. Most of these units employ children between the age of 5 to 15 years, who work for more than 12 hours in extremely hazardous conditions for meagre pays. Most of these children for the number of pieces that they produce every day, and earn anywhere between Rs 30 to 50 per day.
"Asthma, eye infection and TB are prevalent among 90% of them who are involved in gun powder filling and are directly in contact with the chemical ingredients. Children are involved in loading flower pots, fixing the fuse, making paper pipes, filling rings etc. These workers usually do not wear any protective clothes and their skin is normally covered with the chemicals like sulphur, aluminium powder and gun powder. Moreover, children are affected psychologically, too," said a 2013 National Child for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) report.
Rakesh Senger of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, whose founder Kailash Satyarthi has won the Nobel Prize for a three-decade long crusade against child labour, said that in many factories children as small as five mix sodium and nitrate with their own hands. "Their hands are scalded, and because they are not technically trained, they tend to mix unsafe amounts for bombs, which usually blast," says Senger. He added that the problem is not limited to Tamil Nadu, and that BAA volunteers have seen child labour in cracker units in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jaipur and Assam. "There is no cracker unit in this country that does not employ children," he says.
According to the 1996 Supreme Court judgement by MC Mehta, factories that do not comply with the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, must pay Rs 20,000 as compensation for each child employed. The Act also lists a number of hazardous occupations and process which prohibits employment of children under 14 years, including cracker and match units. "None of these rescued children ever see a penny, let alone the compensation. Also, interstate migrating workers must be registered in both states as per Interstate Workmen Act, where the registration must not be done by the manufacturers," said Senger.
Former NCPCR chairperson Kushal Singh, under whose direction there were many studies conducted on child labour in cracker units, said that the implementation of the Act is incomplete. "This is criminal activity, and the state labour departments must be more proactive, they simply cite lack of funds. While on one hand the state makes education compulsory, on the other hand they employ kids as young as five in these factories," said Singh.
Employers are more than complicit in this. Abiruben, the president of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers' Association (TANFAMA) not simply refused to acknowledge the problem. "Which generation do you belong to? Are you living in the 20th century? These are simply hearsay; please get your facts correct. There has been no child labour in Sivakasi since 1982," said an irate Abiruben.
Rajagopalan, director of the Nether's Economic and Educational Development Society, who has been working to curb the menace in Virudhnagar since 2002, said the problem has moved deeper now. Children are now employed at home-based factories. "Children are now working in homes, and in some places working in factories that have moved to rural areas. Four months back, I went on a survey with an Italian woman who had come from Chennai, and found 40 children in about 4-5 units in Virudhnagar," he said. "How will the district administration take action against homemade units? Manufactures hide children in rooms in villages."
Come Diwali, and attention is once again turned to Sivakasi in an annual acknowledgement of a malaise that refuses to go away.
Why advertise with us
A hub of the fireworks industry, believed by some to be second only to Liuyang, the Chinese fireworks city, Sivakasi in southern India's Tamil Nadu state with its 800 odd fireworks units, is synonymous with child labour, a reputation it finds difficult to shake off.
Ideally suited for fireworks manufacture thanks to a dry climate and low rainfall, Sivakasi caught the public eye when activists exposed the rampant child labour employed in its factories.
Government intervention through a child labour project that weans children away from the hazardous setting, and into pursuing education has set the tone for Sivakasi achieving the distinction of becoming a 'zero' child labour industrial cluster in the state, say officials.
The local corporator claims children now do not constitute even 1% of the total workforce.
The Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Association has in fact challenged Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, to prove his claim that the cracker industry still employs over 100,000 child labourers.
There has been no child labour in Sivakasi since 1982, said the association president.
Is this a case of sweeping the dust under the carpet?
Rajagopalan, director of the Nether's Economic and Educational Development Society, working in the region since 2002, told DNA that children are now employed at home-based factories.
"Four months back, I went on a survey ... and found 40 children in about 4-5 units in Virudhnagar," he said. "How will the district administration take action against homemade units? Manufacturers hide children in rooms in villages."
Rakesh Senger of the Satyarthi's Bachpan Bachao Andolan said that in many factories children as small as five mix sodium and nitrate with their own hands.
Claiming the problem is widespread in child labour in cracker units in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jaipur and Assam, he declared that there was "no cracker unit in this country that does not employ children." And this is despite legislation such as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986.
Children have been employed in the largely cottage industry to fill gun powder into fireworks and sparklers and are directly in contact with the chemical ingredients with no gloves or protective equipment.
Their hands are scalded with the skin exposed to the sulphur, aluminium powder and gun powder. A 2013 National Child for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) report alleged the children were affected psychologically too.
A lack of safety norms and lax inspection has seen over 237 people lose their lives in accidents at the factories in Sivakasi, with a sizeable number being children.
Way back in the 90s a UN study had said that there were 30,000 people employed in the match industry and 3,000 people employed in the fireworks industry in Sivakasi; all in between the age of 6-14.
While the numbers have come down, they refuse to die down.
In 1940, when the Indian Explosives Rules was enacted and licensing introduced for the production of fireworks, Sivakasi set up its first unit.
Today, the industry is estimated to be around 20bn rupees (£202m) and employs about 400,000 people directly and indirectly, reports Business Standard. It produces 70-90% of the country's fireworks.
Some of the bigger companies are giving a major thrust to mechanisation and finding it safer and more economical. The smaller ones still rely on nimble hands.
While the manufacturers' association alleges that the NGOs are bought by foreign aid, the activists claim that child labour in Sivakasi has simply been hidden in the closet.
In deciding the truth, the public plays an important role – in deciding to buy fireworks that have not been made using child labour.
Labelling is still to take off in a big way.
Meanwhile, more awareness needs to be built among Indian buyers of fireworks, a vast majority of who still look for the cheaper option in buying their Diwali fireworks.
Playing with dangerous stuff
Firecrackers use charcoal, sulfur and potassium nitrate with aluminium instead of or in addition to charcoal in order to brighten the explosion.
Sparklers use oxidisers like potassium nitrate. The fuel is charcoal and sulfur, with a binder which can be sugar or starch. Aluminium, iron, steel, zinc or magnesium dust is added to create bright, shimmering sparks.
Fireworks generate a variety of air pollutants, like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, in addition to aerosols or particulate matter that worsens lung conditions like asthma.
Research has shown high levels of particulate material during festive seasons when fireworks are used.
Sivaksi Other name of Child Labour
Child labourers have historically been a part of the fireworks industry in India, especially Sivakasi. It was way back in 1989 that a reporter named Shubh Bharadwaj had reported about the fireworks industry employing children as workers. A majority of these children were working in the unorganised sector, where small sheds and hazardous working conditions are still prevalent. The bigger businesses do not employ children, and their resources and safety measures are also better than those existing in the small factories.
In 2002, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had brought out a report stating that the firecracker industry was not the only one where the children were present in significant numbers. The children were also employed in the industries that manufactured incense sticks and matches. In the ILO report, it was also said that the demand for these products had only grown overtime. However, that demand was not being met by the corporate houses or the industrial entities that are a part of the formal economy. Rather, the smaller units, which operate primarily from homes, were and are still increasing in number to meet these demands.
This also implies that with time, more child labourers have been recruited into these industries. The fact that these entities work in a hidden fashion also makes it very hard for any organisation to keep a track of their shoddy activities that employ children. In fact, the extent of danger that these hapless souls face can be guessed from the fact that in 2012, five people including some children lost their lives in an explosion that took place in Sivakasi.
Sivakasi is Synonymous with Child Labour
Outside India, Sivakasi has become synonymous with child labour and this situation has been hard to change in the last few years. A few years back, some activists exposed the fireworks industry over here and their continued employment of children with them. However, the state government is trying its best to redeem the situation by instituting a child labour project, which will try to stop the children from working in the dangerous environment and take up education instead.
Kailash Satyarthi, the winner of the Nobel Prize, had recently said that the industry employs at least one lakh child labourers. However, his claims have been contested by the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association. The association’s president has gone as far as to say that since 1982 there has been no child labour in Sivakasi.
Rajagopalan, who acts as the director of Economic and Educational Development Society, has said that the children are primarily employed in home-based units, a fact mentioned earlier. During a survey in 2014, he saw that four to five units at Virudhnagar had employed around 40 children. He has enquired about the steps that the district administrators could take against the home-based entities, while also saying that the children were basically being hidden in the rooms. His opinions have been corroborated by Rakesh Senger, who works for ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’, which is headed by Satyarthi.
Senger says that there are some factories where children as young as five years old mix nitrate and sodium with their own hands. The situation is same in some other States like Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Assam. Despite the existence of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, passed in 1986, as Senger says, there is no fireworks unit in India that does not employ children or where children are not working in some form or the other.
Contact with Hazardous Chemicals
In the fireworks units, the children are supposed to fill the gunpowder into the crackers. In this role, they are always in a direct contact with the various chemicals and worse, they have nothing to protect themselves like gloves, etc. Since their hands are exposed to sulphur, gunpowder and aluminium powder their skins have scalded. As has been stated in a report filed in 2013 by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, children suffer from mental issues as well. In the last few years, 237 people have passed away at Sivakasi because of absence of safety norms, and most of them were children.
During the ’90s, the United Nations had brought out a report saying 3,000 people were working in the fireworks industry of Sivakasi, and all of them were in the age group of 6-14 years. Although the numbers have reduced, the problem of child labour still persists. What has further exacerbated the situation is the common consumer propensity in India to buy fireworks, especially the cheaper ones, most of which are made by the home-based units that employ children.
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