More than 65 lakh women Beedi rollers from across the country, including around 30,000 from Vellore, have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exclude Beedi from the proposed amendments to Cigarette & Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) as it can wreck their livelihoods.
There are more than 80 lakh beedi rollers in the country and out of this 65 lakh are women. “In Tamil Nadu alone, there are five lakh of them and 75% are women. In Vellore there are 50,000 and out of this 30,000 are women,” said M.P. Ramachandran, president, Tamil Nadu Beedi Workers Federation.
He said that as per the new amendments, Beedi should be sold only as a pack and the brand name should not be printed on the pack. “This will lead to circulation of fake brands and this will endanger people’s lives even more,” he added.
Mr. Ramachandran said that rallies were held across the country demanding that Beedis be excluded from COTPA Act amendments. “It is a traditional industry in the country. Women, mainly homemakers and elderly people, depend on this industry to earn a living. There is no alternative employment for these women beedi workers. The amendments will make them lose their jobs,” added Mr. Ramachandran.
He said that the government should reformulate separate rules for beedis under COTPA 2003 to save this indigenous and high employment-generating.
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