NEW DELHI: For India’s firecracker manufacturing hub, Sivakasi, this Diwali has been one of confusion and uncertainty. From a muted response from customers in the run-up to the Diwali weekend, to uncertainty surrounding the Supreme Court mandate on ‘green crackers’, the hub has had a rather forgettable festive season this year. While manufacturers say that it is too early to give out pan-India estimates on how sales have performed, dealers on the ground indicate that sales have been either stagnant or lower than previous years.
All these factors have taken the fire out of the industry this season, both in Sivakasi and on the market streets. “The run-up to Diwali was subdued and while many of the dealers we supply to say their customers are asking for green crackers, there was hardly any supply of these,” said Hemanth Patel, a wholesaler in NCR’s bustling Sadar Bazaar market.
Prakash Kumar, who ran a small firecracker shop in Mayur Vihar for this season agrees. “Customers keep asking if the crackers were green. We haven’t gotten any crackers with these green logos,” he said, adding that many customers have moved away from high decibel ‘bombs and started preferring purely visual products like flower pots and skylights.
If the lack of green crackers was stymying sales on the ground, sources in Sivakasi say that the delay in concretising norms for green crackers as directed by the apex court had delayed production in the initial few months of the year.
In fact, in a press conference in the run-up to the festival, the Tamil Nadu Fireworks Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) president P Ganesan had said that while many switched to producing green crackers according to the norms worked out in collaboration with the Nagpur-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), there wasn’t enough time to affix logos or QR codes on the products.
“The delay in the first part of the year had already affected production worth Rs 800 crore,” association officials had said. But, while some in the industry have raised concerns on the SC order and shifting to the new norms, others say it is a natural evolution and the industry has to improve.
“This shift is inevitable and has to be done. Like in any product, the consumer has the right to ask for a better version,” said G Abiruben of Ayyan Fireworks to this paper. “As for sales, it will take a few more days to get an accurate picture of how the industry has done,” he added.