Breathless Sivakasi firecracker industry

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There have been successive losses and declines in sales over the past three years, and the outlook this year is similar.

Chennai: Covid-19 is the least on the minds of lakhs of firecracker industry workers in Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district in southern Tamil Nadu at a time when their livelihoods are at stake. With losses successive stages and a drop in sales over the past three years, and similar prospects this year, firecracker makers and workers in Tamil Nadu city are seeing an almost certain death in the country’s firecracker industry.

The continued ban on the sale of firecrackers for Diwali, imposed for the past three years, has left several manufacturers and dealers with huge amounts of unsold inventory. New orders have dried up as most towns and cities have ban orders coming up. Delhi and NCR have already issued bans on the sale of firecrackers, and the makers of Sivakasi are sure this year is also a failure, like previous ones. “If there is a third wave of Covid, as some have predicted, then this Deepavali is over for us as well. And if it continues like this for another two years or so, I fear that Sivakasi will die a painful death, ”lamented PCA Asaithambi, former president of the Sivakasi Fireworks Manufacturers Association. “To save Sivakasi, the government should allow the bursting of firecrackers because they are not strictly polluting objects according to the definition contained in the provisions of the environmental law,” he said.

“Repeated appeals to central and state governments have failed to resolve the crisis we are facing,” Asaithambi said, echoing the sentiments of several other manufacturers, most of whom are second-tier firecracker makers. third generation. “We used to give representation to every central government and minister of state government that we met, several times over the past few years. Other than hype, we haven’t received a lot of concrete help, ”said another firecracker maker.

Sivakasi, the town in Tamil Nadu that makes firecrackers, has been suffering for a decade since environmental activists damaged their livelihood through lawsuits. The tragedy is that no government has come to the aid of the firecracker industry to sell in the domestic market, nor has it facilitated Sivakasi to exploit the export market, currently ruled by China. China exports firecrackers worth Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 8,000 crore per year. Sivakasi, which accounts for 90% of India’s firecracker manufacture, can wreak havoc on China’s overseas market if given some help.

Strict export regulations, rules and restrictions hamper exports of firecrackers. “We continue to receive requests from the American and European markets, but we cannot export due to logistical reasons as well as strict regulations governing the dangerous industry,” complained P. Ganesan, president of Tamil Nadu Fireworks. and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA). “The export market and marketing can be practical solutions to remedy the plight of the firecracker industry in Sivakasi. We can easily become the only source of firecrackers in the world, ”said Ganesan.

Exports of firecrackers have fallen considerably for two reasons. Firstly, sea transportation is a problem because most of the ocean liners are reluctant to carry dangerous goods and secondly, to reach Europe or America, Indian products have to be shipped to Singapore and from there loaded on different ships, this which makes the process cumbersome and expensive. , that’s why China has an advantage. Right now, a shipment of firecrackers from India is charged 10 times the cost of shipping other goods, he said, citing an example. “If the central government works with the Sivakasi firecracker industry, India can replace China,” he said. “Many members receive serious requests from abroad. Our green crackers that emit less smoke are getting more attention, ”said Ganesan. Significant success in the export market would mean a new lease of life for this small town of Sivakasi, located in Virudhunagar district, which has a hot and dry climate that is ideally suited for the firecracker manufacturing industry. Home to 1,070 registered firecracker units, Sivakasi and its surroundings are also home to several unregistered units. Some eight lakhs of people are directly and indirectly employed in this industry.

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