The Rajasthan government’s order banning the use of firecrackers and the notice issued by the National Green Tribunal to the Centre, seeking its reply for a ban on crackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) during November, have shocked the fireworks hub here.
Even as the industry was busy with last-minute production to meet the demand during Deepavali amid the COVID-19 threat, the latest developments have raised concerns about the very existence of the sector.
The production of fireworks was hit badly due to the lockdown. “The industry found it difficult to meet the precautionary measures to resume production. Our workers, too, risked their lives under the pandemic threat to produce the fireworks with the sole objective of keeping the people happy during the festival celebrations,” said Indian Fireworks Manufacturers’ Association (TIFMA) general secretary T. Kannan.
He wondered why the issue of pollution was being raised during the time of sales after a year of hard work by lakhs of workers.
President of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association Ganesan Panjurajan said the industry was producing green crackers approved by the Supreme Court.
“We are not using any chemicals that pollute. Besides, the additives suggested by the National Environmental Engineering Institute were used to bring down the emissions,” he said.
The manufacturers wondered why fireworks used for a few hours for two to three days during Deepavali were being targeted when major pollutants like thermal power plants and the cement industry, and pollution caused by automobiles and road dust were being ignored.
“The Environmental Protection Act states that any emission that gets dissolved in the atmosphere within 48 hours is not a pollutant. Studies have proved that fireworks are not all polluting,” Mr. Kannan said.
Mr. Ganesan said stocks meant for north Indian States had already reached their destinations. Any ban on bursting of crackers would not only hurt the dealers but also affect the resumption of production post-Deepavali and the livelihoods of lakhs of employees.
The industry has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, seeking their support for sale and bursting of crackers.