Minister of Labor & Employment (Independent Charge) Bandaru Dattatreya has opposed the move to cover 85 per cent of a beedi bundle’s surface be covered by health warnings, up from the current requirement of 20 per cent.
In a letter to Health Minister J.P. Nadda, he recently wrote that his “real concern” is “the impending loss of livelihood opportunities to beedi workers, mostly comprising of home-based and piece-rate workers who earn their bread solely from beedi rolling/packaging activities. There are also people in marketing and transportation jobs who will be indirectly affected in the event of closure of the manufacturing units.”
Further, he pointed out the poor and illiterate beedi workers are not ready at the moment to migrate to an alternative occupation, said official sources.
It may be recalled that in October 2014 the Ministry of Health had prescribed that the anti-smoking warning should appear on 85 per cent of the principal display area.
Unsurprisingly, the tobacco industry is unhappy over the developments. The Karnataka Beedi Industry Association has sought a stay on the enforcement of new packaging rules.