With various States imposing a ban on firecrackers this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Madras High Court has opined that the State and Central Governments should introduce alternative employment schemes to benefit those whose livelihoods have been affected. .An order passed earlier this week by a Madurai Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi said, ."Since several States in this country are banning the bursting of the crackers, which is ultimately having an impact over its manufacture that affects not only the fireworks industries / companies, but also the persons employed therein and also considering the risky circumstances, under which, the employees are working in the fireworks industries, this court feels that the Central and State governments shall come up with a scheme, providing alternate employment to those, who are all involved in the firework industries.".The court also suo motu impleaded the Tamil Nadu Industries Department and the Centre's Department of Commerce and Industries as respondents in the matter. .The court was dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) raising concerns over the safety of those working in the firework industry (J Vasudevan v. District Collector and ors). .An opposing respondent told the court that the plea had only been filed to extort money. It was pointed out that another similar petition filed last year around Deepavali was dismissed by the court. .The High Court, however, mused that the PIL had been filed at the right time, when the production and bursting of crackers are being banned by several States in India. .The Bench further took note of the petitioner's submissions that no safety measures are being adopted for the benefit of workers in the fireworks industry, a large number of whom are employed at Sivakasi, in violation of the Explosives Rules, 2008 and the Tamil Nadu Factories Rules, 1950..In response, the court called for information on various aspects including the following from the last ten years, district wise: the number of firework industries/companies in Tamil Nadu, the number of workers involved, directly and indirectly, information on accidents, lives lost and injuries in such industries and the compensation paid for the same, the inspections conducted to ensure safety measures are followed and the number of violations detected as well as actions taken in response..The case is now posted to be taken up next on December 4 along with connected writ petitions.