Sombre sparklers in Sivakasi this Deepavali

Ban on crackers in New Delhi has plunged Sivakasi’s units in despair, with manufacturers fearing other States might follow suit

Published: 24th September 2021 05:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2021 05:19 AM   |  A+A-

Two men are busy assembling shell for flower pots in Sivakasi | kk sundar

Express News Service

VIRUDHUNAGAR: The skies in Sivakasi have turned grey, but this time not just for auguring the seasonal rains. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s imposition of a complete ban on storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers in the nation’s capital for the Diwali festival, has sent shock waves across the cracker manufacturing sector over anxiety if other States would follow suit like last year. 

The situation has been drab for quite some time now. The pandemic played its part, the Supreme Court disallowed use of non-green crackers and subsequently seven states banned the use of crackers last year. “Adhering to the apex court order, we have been making only green crackers now,” Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association (TANFAMA) President Ganesan Panjurajan told TNIE.

“With the previous year’s stock still remaining unsold in seven States, we were forced to slash production by 35 per cent this time. We are not wishing to rake in huge profits, but just to keep the industry afloat amid a myriad of problems. All we ask for is to allow people to burst crackers for a few hours’ time during the festival,” he said. 

Pointing out that nearly 1.5 crore people are involved in the cracker business across the country, Ganesan added that all of them are completely cornered now. “They invest in crackers, sell them and reinvest the money earned in other seasonal businesses. However, now they are all stuck with the previous year’s cracker stock, resulting in a series of business adversities. Other nations like the US or Japan have not banned crackers. Why then, States in India have to ban the green crackers too?” he enquired.

Claiming that around 80 per cent of private educational institutes in the district belong to cracker unit owners, the TANFAMA chief said, “Loss of business in the cracker manufacturing sector will surely trickle down and affect essential sectors, including education.” 

Sivakasi MLA AMSG Ashokan, who is also a cracker industrialist and owner of educational institutions, alleges the vested interests of the Chinese government was wrecking havoc on the business here. “They are interfering in everything, right from making it difficult to obtain NOC for exporting crackers, to the local issues. Initially, some groups ruined our business raising concerns of child labour.

Now that it has been proved that no unit here employs children, they are trying to create new problems. The government of all States must understand that the green crackers we produce do not pollute the environment, but instead kill germs in the atmosphere,” he added.

The MLA also said a request has already been made to exempt use of crackers under section 3B of the Environment Protection Act, as they do not contaminate the environment beyond 48 hours.  “As an MLA, I am going to request the Union government to provide NOC for exporting crackers, and seek the assistance of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for the same,” he added.

Cracker units 

Total number of units in the district 1,010

Number of DRO licensed units 269

Number of PESO licensed units 741

Directly involved workers 1.5 lakh

Allied industries’ workers 5 lakh

Sources: District Administration
Sources seeking anonymity said that while nobody dropped out of work, their wages have decreased manifold, and the number of work days available to them has fallen


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