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CECRI’s ‘green’ crackers fail to set off a sparkle

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on October 24, 2018

FILE PHOTO - K Mariappan, General Secretary, TANFAMA   -  The Hindu

The Central Electro-Chemical Research Institute (CECRI) says it has developed less polluting, quieter but brighter firecrackers. Yet, the crackers industry is not impressed.

Egged on by Science and Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) took up the task of developing ‘green crackers’. While CECRI, which is one of the research institutions under CSIT, began working on different chemical formulations for crackers, another CSIR arm, the Central Electronics Engineering Research (CEERI), Pilani, Rajasthan, is working on ‘electronic crackers’, which will produce sounds and lights without fire.

Team CECRI, comprising scientists John Berchmans, V Ganesh and Subrata Kundu, came up with a different formulation that replaced aluminium with magnesium. Result: Reduced emissions, increased brightness.

“Dust emission comes down by 60 per cent,” Berchmans told BusinessLine. This formulation was developed for use in sparklers such as ‘flower pots’ and ‘sparkling wire’.

For the other fast-selling cracker, the ‘atom bomb’, Berchmans said CECRI developed a chemical cocktail that uses urea and hexamine instead of sulphur. The decibel level drops to 103-109, compared with 119-125 in the conventional ‘atom bombs’.

The institution worked with the industry to develop green crackers. Krishna Fireworks of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) was deputed to work with CECRI.

While Vijaykant of Krishna Fireworks said the adoption of CECRI’s green crackers was, at best, a long way away, K Mariappan, General Secretary of the Association, said the industry was clearly not impressed with CECRI’s green crackers.

The ‘flower pots’ exploded instead of producing a display of colours, Mariappan told BusinessLine. He doubted if the approving authority, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), Nagpur, will clear CECRI’s formulations. “The moment they see magnesium they will reject it,” he said, adding that the ‘‘performance’’ of the crackers developed by CECRI was “not good”.

Court order

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refrained from an outright ban on firecrackers, but ruled that only ‘green crackers’ could be burst, and that too only between 8 am and 9 pm. Many in the industry have raised doubts whether the order could be effectively implemented, because anyone who uses a firecracker not labelled ‘green’, or outside of the stipulated time, will be guilty of violating the court’s order.

The firecrackers industry is estimated to be worth ₹20,000 crore, a quarter of which comprises imports from China. Sivakasi town in Tamil Nadu, the biggest cracker producer in India, manufactures around ₹4,000 crore worth of fireworks.

Published on October 24, 2018

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