The Federation of Tamil Nadu Fireworks Traders on Monday held a protest against the conditions imposed on the sale of fireworks, following the Supreme Court ruling that allows only green firecrackers to be made and sold in the country, among other restrictions. Roughly about 2,500 traders from all the southern states participated in the protest, informs K Mariappan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers, adding units in Sivakasi, the hub of firecracker manufacturing in the country, has remained shut since Diwali.
Mariappan further informs that the manufacturers reopen the units and get back to work usually in the first week after the festival, but that has not happened this time because as per law whatever is manufactured will be considered illegal, and therefore the units that kick off operations run the risk of getting their licences revoked. "The big pain point is that there is no clear idea on green crackers," says Mariappan, adding as many as 1,070 units are shut just in and around Sivakasi. Over 3 lakh people are directly employed under these units and another 5 lakh indirectly, who are involved in businesses like packaging and labelling etc.
Mariappan says, his association has now written to Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, seeking his intervention. "The fireworks industry has reached a point of disaster and the fireworks factories all over the country, including the 1070 in and around Sivakasi, have already closed down due to the Orders passed by Supreme Court on October 23, 2018 and October 31, 2018. Although the Hon'ble Court had outwardly ordered that there is no 'All India ban' on the manufacture, sale and use of fireworks, some impractical conditions which have been imposed in the order amount to a total ban on fireworks," writes the Federation in the letter to minister.
These conditions were apparently imposed based on the suggestions put forth by the ministry in its affidavit filed by its senior official. The letter further points out that the suggestions referred in the Order related to 'green crackers'. It says: there is no "green cracker or reduced emission or improved crackers" as of now. 'Green cracker' is an ambition or goal towards which the industry has just begun some research activities through the CSIR. The CSIR-NEERI, in its interim report submitted to the court, has also stated that it can come out with some solutions towards green crackers only by July, 2019.
That apart, Mariappan says, there is an issue also with the ban on the use of barium salts in fireworks as also with joined crackers (those fireworks where you have a series of bombs tied together in a chain and go off in sequence). About 60 per cent of the firecrackers are made of barium nitrate and about 20 per cent of the total industry sales are from joint crackers, he says.