Days before Diwali, the Principal Commissioner of Customs has issued a warning against the illegal import of Chinese fire crackers, and advised the public to avoid buying such hazardous crackers as they are harmful to the environment and pose a threat to the domestic industry.
“Smuggling of crackers of Chinese origin and their illegal sale in the Indian market is a matter of serious concern. The import of firecrackers is ‘restricted’ and as such any person who, in relation to, acquires possession of or is in anyway concerned in carrying, depositing, harbouring, keeping, concealing, selling or purchasing or in any other manner dealing with the Chinese firecrackers will be punished under Customs Act, 1962,” the Principal Commissioner said in a statement.
The department further said that use of such crackers was against the Explosive Rules, 2008, and was harmful as they contain banned chemicals like red lead, copper oxide, lithium, etc. “These chemicals are also highly dangerous and inimical to the environment. Buying Chinese crackers also affect our economy and pose a threat to the domestic industry,” the statement added.
The statement was released weeks after 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 these release 30 per cent less particulate matter and 20 per cent less sulphur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions.
In October 2018, the Supreme Court had banned conventional crackers that use barium nitrate as a key component and also barred joint crackers or lari that emit 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).
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, 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. 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,” he said.
The Customs department iterated that it will initiate strict action against any persons who are involved in illegal import, selling and buying of Chinese crackers under the Customs Act, 1962. It urged the public to report any sales or storage of such crackers by calling the Chennai Customs Control room (044-25246800).