Deepavali is just around the corner but the Supreme Court’s decision to ban the sale of firecrackers that are not ‘green’ has hampered a section of the stakeholders in the country’s pyrotechnics capital Sivakasi near Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu.
Some manufacturers said this Deepavali would be a ‘black day’ as the court order restricts them to sell the already manufactured stock.
On October 5, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan launched green crackers developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Research Institute (NEERI). Vardhan claimed the green crackers would release 30 per cent less particulate matter and 20 per cent less sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions.
While the cracker makers and a chunk of the public feel that burning crackers are a part of the tradition, the eco-conscious fraternity has demanded a blanket ban on them.
“The sales aren’t that great this time in comparison with previous years. The term ‘green crackers’ was unheard a few years before but now they are making it compulsory. There is no clear solution from the government also. Some of our products are green, but we have changed our formula to reduce the emission level,” said a popular manufacturer in Sivakasi.
In October 2018, owing to concerns over air pollution, the Supreme Court banned conventional crackers that use barium nitrate as a key component and also barred joint crackers or lari that emit huge pollution and noise. As a replacement, the court suggested the use of green crackers or eco-friendly crackers approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO). The apex court is expected to deliver a judgment on October 22 regarding the use of improved crackers that have reduced levels by barium nitrate.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Federation of Tamil Nadu Fireworks Traders president Raja Chandrasekaran said there was uncertainty amidst the manufactures about the use of green crackers.
“With the limited knowledge they have, manufacturers have been producing crackers with low emission and that’s been supplied in the market. This year green crackers can’t be seen in markets in large numbers and maybe next year it is possible. And moreover, these green crackers were initially meant only for the Delhi NCR region because it was badly affected by air pollution. In Tamil Nadu or South India, we won’t experience that kind of pollution,” Chandrasekaran said.
He further said that experts from CSIR-NEERI’s were still examining the type of components the manufacturers use in crackers. Chandrasekaran claimed that the research was only in the laboratory stage.
“There are a total of 5,000 traders in Tamil Nadu. In our association, there are 1,600 members and apart from this, there are close to 3,000 temporary traders who hold a license to sell the crackers for 10-15 days during the festival. We are already in crisis due to economic slowdown and we have already purchased the crackers from the manufactures and it has reached the retailers now. I hope that SC’s decision on October 22 will be favourable to us because the festival is just around the corner and we cannot put new products in the market in such a short time. If that doesn’t happen, this Deepavali will be a ‘black day’ for us,” Chandrasekaran said.
Ganesan Panjurajan, the president of The Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA), said the SC’s move to introduce eco-friendly crackers would go a long way in controlling pollution.
“From April 11 this year, we have been manufacturing only green crackers. Authorities from CSIR-NEERI had briefed the factories on multiple occasions on the use of green crackers and demonstrated what type of chemicals they should be using to cause low emission, etc,” he told indianexpress.com
When asked how customers could differentiate green crackers from the conventional crackers, Ganesan said the NEERI website (http://www.neeri.res.in) provides a list of all the companies that have signed the deal with them.
“The only issue is that we are unable to print the logo of green crackers and the QR code on our products since we had a very short time to manufacture and retail,” Panjurajan said.
Ganesan added that that there are a section of manufacturers who are not aware of new SC recommendations and had already produced huge stocks of conventional crackers.
“There are close to 1,070 factories in Virudhunagar district which produces firecrackers and out of which 218 factories come under the control of DM. Close to 343 members of our association have signed NDA with CSIR-NEERI. Certain manufacturers are a bit skeptical to approve CSIR-NEERI’s demand to give them patent rights of their products, but we hope the issue resolves and expects others to sign the agreement soon. Government and court have said something and we have to obey it,” he added.