Fearing SC crackdown, TN firecracker makers avoid supply to Delhi

Crackers, Firecrackers, Batala firecracker factory blast, Diwali, green crackers, air pollution
A man makes fire crackers ahead of Diwali | Photo: PTI File

Fearing a crackdown by the Supreme Court due to its stringent laws regarding fireworks, firecracker manufacturers in Tamil Nadu have this time refrained from sending their products to wholesalers in New Delhi. The reason behind this reluctance of the firecracker makers is their failure to fully comply with the standards set by the top court regarding the manufacture of firecrackers.

Speaking to The Federal, P Ganesan, president, Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TNFAMA) said that they did not want to send firecrackers to New Delhi this time since it could create a lot of problems for them.

“If we send our firecrackers to New Delhi and some activist gets those tested, it will land us in trouble. They may sue us and action may be initiated against us,” said Ganesan.

Also read | SC order to have safe Diwali of no avail, Sivakasi firecrackers are anything but green

Ganesan isn’t the only manufacturer who did not sell his products to the wholesale traders in New Delhi. All major manufacturers, who on a regular basis supplied firecrackers to the national capital, have refrained from doing so this time.

“After Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Delhi is the biggest market for the firecracker industry. It alone records a sale of around 20-30% of the firecrackers manufactured in Sivakasi,” said Sanjeevi Kumar, a small-scale firecracker manufacturer in Sivakasi.

According to the firecracker manufacturers in Sivakasi, the Delhi market also includes other nearby states where the firecrackers supplied by the traders based in the national capital.

Following court direction not possible, say manufacturers

Workers busy making firecrackers for the upcoming Diwali festival | Photo: PTI File

“If we sell firecrackers to the traders in New Delhi, we must follow the Supreme Court directions, which is practically impossible. So, we did not send our firecrackers there,” said the owner of a fireworks manufacturing unit on the condition of anonymity.

It was in 2016 that for the first time a Sivakasi-based firecracker manufacturer, Kaliswari Fireworks, had come under the scanner of the Supreme Court. A man had then moved the top court and sought a ban on firecrackers, alleging that his children suffered from suffocation after bursting firecrackers made by Kaliswari Fireworks.

“Having learnt from this episode, we either do not send our firecrackers to New Delhi, or even if we do, we send those without any barcode or the name of the manufacturer, in order to escape any legal scrutiny,” said another manufacturer on the condition of anonymity.

Stating that the size of the Delhi market is bigger as compared to other states, Kaliswari Fireworks managing director AP Selvaraj said that he too is not ready to supply to any of his regular customers in Delhi until the Supreme Court gives them a green signal.

Also read | Batala firecracker factory illegal, police say; victims’ families demand action

“We are still confused whether we can sell our firecrackers in Delhi or not. So, we will first get a clarification from the Supreme Court and only then we will supply,” Selvaraj said.

Incidentally, Delhi police has also come out with some strict rules and procedures to set up retail and wholesale firecracker units in the national capital.

In 2018, even though there were several restrictions regarding the bursting of firecrackers, 87 wholesale firecracker units were given permission to operate. However, this year, only 13 units were approved even though 97 units had sought permission from the Delhi police.

Speaking to The Federal, Fireworks Traders Welfare Association president Narender Gupta said that the applications were kept pending till October 17 and they were later told that all the applications, except 13, were rejected.

“We are planning to appeal to the Joint Commissioner of Police to reconsider their decision. It would take another couple of days to get this solved,” he said.

Also read | 23 killed, 27 hurt in Punjab firecracker factory blast

Gupta added that the police are being too strict this time since the Supreme Court had said it would hold the Station House Officer responsible for any case of manufacturing and selling of firecrackers that do not comply with the court’s regulations.

“This time, we do not have much varieties of green firecrackers. We have about 17 varieties of green firecrackers that comply with the Supreme Court standards,” he said.

According to the traders in Delhi, in 2018, despite getting permission for 87 wholesale units, the wholesale traders faced a loss of about ₹11,000 crore as the top court banned the sale of conventional firecrackers and restricted the time for fireworks. “If the police does not give permission this year, the loss would be far more as compared to last year,” Gupta said.

Despite The Federal’s best efforts, Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik could not be reached for his comment.