Welcome judgement, but there are grey spots, says TN fireworks industry

While the fireworks industry in Sivakasi is glad that there was no blanket ban, several questions remain on the SC verdict and its implementation.
Welcome judgement, but there are grey spots, says TN fireworks industry
Welcome judgement, but there are grey spots, says TN fireworks industry
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Tamil Nadu’s firecracker hub Sivakasi was relieved when the Supreme Court of India did not order a blanket ban of fireworks across the country on Tuesday. Instead, the SC has imposed other measures to combat pollution — a solution that the industry finds deeply problematic.

Tuesday’s verdict said that only ‘green’ crackers with reduced emission will be permitted, and the rest are banned. While online sales have also been banned, firecrackers are to be obtained only through licensed traders who abide by the new rules. Barium salts in the fireworks have also been banned.

Speaking to TNM, Mariappan, General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association says that the judgement is superficially good since this would lead to a change in the attitudes of people towards fireworks.

He says, “They used to keep saying it made poisonous gases. People were hesitant to buy. But now people will no longer be reluctant. There will be a change in attitude.”

However, he points out that several aspects of the judgement are unclear and as a consequence, its implementation may be in peril.

For example, Mariappan says that without barium salt - the chemical often used to create pyrotechnic formula - they cannot manufacture fireworks.

“Bariums salts have been banned without providing any reason. They should have atleast consulted with the licensing authority i.e., the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation. It is their responsibility to say whether a chemical is permitted for use. They haven’t said what should be the alternate for barium salt. This is unacceptable for the industry,” he says.

In a move that has drawn flak from many quarters, the judgement specifically states, “On Diwali days or on any other festivals like Gurpurab etc., when such fireworks generally take place, it would strictly be from 8:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m. only. On Christmas eve and New Year eve, when such fireworks start around midnight, i.e. 12:00 a.m., it would be from 11:55 p.m. till 12:30 a.m. only.”

Mariappan points out that there is a vast difference between how festivals are celebrated in different parts of the country.

“In Tamil Nadu, will celebrate Deepavali on the morning of November 6. In the north, they will celebrate on the evening of November 7. In Mysore, Dussehra is more prominent. In West Bengal, they celebrate Kali Puja. Does this mean bursting firecrackers during these festivals is banned? The judgement seems to be unaware of traditions and cultural backgrounds of festivals. How can there be a uniform time for all states to celebrate?” he asks.

Despite this, Mariappan says the industry is grateful that there has been no blanket ban. This means that they can now jog back to regular production levels, sans the uncertainty that came every festival season that the judgement had been pending.

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