This Diwali, popularising green firecrackers has been a challenge for distributors despite the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) developing safer alternatives that would result in relatively lesser pollution. The Covid-19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdown and the fircracker ban by some states is also set to affect the sale of such firecrackers.
Green crackers are low sound and light-emitting firecrackers. All green cracker packets carry QR coding, and smartphones can be used to track and verify if the green crackers are truly green.
Fearing emissions may harm those affected by Covid-19, industry representatives had turned to making green crackers based on the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) recommendations. But, Ganesan Panjurajan, president of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks Manufacturers’ Association, told The Indian Express that the firecracker manufacturers’ hard work throughout the year may have come to naught.
“Due to the lockdown, there has only been 70 per cent production, of which 90 per cent products are green. We have worked hard and derived a lot of formulas to control air pollution based on NEERI guidelines,” said Ganesan. However, with air pollution and Covid-19 being termed a toxic mix by experts, Ganesan and other firecracker distributors admitted that sales are yet to pick up.
Director of Nagpur-based NEERI, Dr Rakesh Kumar, said that there have been concerted efforts to popularise green crackers by reducing chemicals. “Several varieties have been developed by the CSIR and formulations have been given to industries. The Petroleum and Safety Explosives Organisation (PESO) has given the go-ahead,” he said. “At our end, nearly 1,000 emission testing certificates have been issued to fireworks manufacturers for new and improved formulations, meeting the stipulated guidelines of green crackers, and for seeking approval of PESO for commercial production,” said Dr Kumar.
In Pune, close to 24 firecracker distributors have a permanent annual licence, while about 200 stall owners usually set up shop across various areas in the city. Ali Daruwala, vice- chairman of the Federation of All India Fireworks Traders, said that some customers, who wanted to avoid crowds in the Diwali week, had purchased crackers at least 10 days ago.
“Only some states have banned firecrackers… (in Maharashtra) Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray… had said there was no ban. However, we now have some customers who want to return the crackers and get a refund,” said Daruwala.
Meanwhile, experts have also pointed out that there are concerns related to the use of certain components in green crackers and hence, the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. It may be recalled that last year, two samples of green crackers had been developed – the first, a conventional formula using less barium nitrate and the new formula without any barium nitrate. Tests showed that the two held reduce particulate matter (PM) by 30 per cent compared to traditional varieties.
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