India’s festival season is on and festivals of Dussehra and Diwali are just couple days and weeks ahead respectively. Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu’s small town which is also known as “little Japan” and is famous for firecrackers manufacturing, is battling legal hurdles that threaten the only source of livelihood there. The town waits for Diwali season when it usually sees an unprecedented spike in orders but they have dried up this time due Supreme Court ban on firecrackers in Delhi and adjacent areas last year.
Talking to news agency ANI, Sivakasi’s Sony Fireworks Director Ganeshan said, “Livelihood of almost 10 lakh people depends on firecracker industry. There is a huge stock which is lying unsold after last year’s SC judgment which banned the sale and purchase of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR region due to rising levels of pollution. There is uncertainty now.”
Sivakasi's Sony Fireworks Director Ganeshan says, 'Livelihood of 8-10 lakh people depends on this industry. Huge stock is lying unsold after last year's SC judgement on ban on sale&purchase of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR due to rising pollution levels.There's a lot of uncertainty." pic.twitter.com/HJRs6E7MK5
— ANI (@ANI) October 14, 2018
Sivakasi once had a thriving firecrackers industry. The town is now staring at its worst Diwali ever. According to media reports, advance orders witnessed a steep decline this summer and dealers were not willing to take any risk. The industry is battling it out in the Supreme Court.
The industry’s argument is that it is not proved that firecrackers are the only reason behind Delhi’s rising air pollution. There are many factors which contribute to it but only firecrackers are targetted.
Sivakasi’s fire industry is not just battling ban but many questions are raised on its not so enviable safety record. This year, in April, four people died due to separate fire incidents in and around Sivakasi. Authorities blamed these accidents on violation of safety norms by firecracker units.
Many argue that the way forward for the industry is to make “eco-friendly firecrackers”. The oxymoronic phrase could be a reality soon. Scientists at the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute which is part of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is working towards inventing green firecrackers. These fireworks will have modified chemical formulations and will help to bring down the level of air and noise pollution.
According to reports, some scientist conducted tests in fields near Sivakasi and were encouraged by what they called “good results”. Scientists were able to reduce the emission of harmful chemicals by 30 to 40%. Their blasts were also under the permissible level of sound which is 120 decibels.