Consumers left disappointed, with green crackers yet to hit the market

T.E. Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on October 25, 2019

A set of 'green crackers' developed by CSRI at Anusandhan Bhawan in New Delhi (file pic)   -  PTI

With the skies clearing up in Chennai on Wednesday morning, Ramya Prasanna, a resident of Velachery and a strong advocate of environment protection, set off for the nearby cracker shop to buy ‘green crackers’. Compared to the traditional crackers, green crackers are supposed to emit less smoke and have lower noise levels. But, she returned home within 10 minutes, empty-handed and disappointed. “There was not a single green cracker in the market. They are selling the same loud and smoky varieties they sold last year,” she complained.

V Sriram, a resident of Nanganallur, has a similar reaction. He was disappointed to find that green crackers were not available in retail stores. “I have never burst crackers due to the noise and smoke they generate. I was hoping to get green crackers this time, but I am disappointed,” he said.

With just three days left for Diwali, retail shops in Chennai do not have green crackers, as mandated by the Supreme Court, which wanted an improved or an all-new formulation for crackers.

Green crackers

The Supreme Court prescribed specific norms for the manufacture of green crackers in a landmark judgement last October, just days before Diwali. The Court, while declining to issue a blanket ban on the sale and bursting of fireworks during Diwali and other festivals, permitted the sale and manufacture of low-emission ‘green’ firecrackers, which are supposed to have 30 per cent lower emission and decibel levels.

The Court had passed the order on writ petitions filed by a few Delhi residents in September 2015, seeking a ban on the sale of firecrackers, as they were concerned about increasing air pollution. However, the manufacturers have missed the bus, and have not been able to flood the market with green crackers, citing a lack of time and confusion around the issues of licence, labelling and QR codes.

At the retail shops, there is no sign of green crackers. We don’t have any Pasumai pattassu (green crackers in Tamil). Hopefully, it will be available next year,” said an employee at Kamadhenu Supermarket, a cooperative society and one of the preferred crackers shops, known for its quality and reasonable price. “You are the first customer to ask for green crackers,” the employee told this correspondent.

It was the same response from employees in some of the other retails shops that have sprung up this morning, since the sun came out. “We hope to have pasumai crackers only next year,” said an employee at a cracker shop in Priyam Shopping Centre, Nanganallur. “We only have a sparkler that sparkles green in colour!” he joked.

At the Mega Pattasu Market in Velachery, an employee said there was no pasumai pattasu this year. It is the same type of crackers that was available last year. “We hope to have pasumai pattasu next year,” he said.

At the Island Grounds, where crackers shops (selling in bulk) spring up in large numbers every year, not a single shop had green crackers (there are totally 60 shops). Asked for Pasummai Patttasu, Dhanapal, an employee, at Muthuganesh Fire Works Industries, just laughed and walked away.

With just three days left for Diwali, Cracker sales are yet to pick up. A view of the empty cracker shops at Island Grounds, Chennai.   -  Bijoy Ghosh


C. Govindarajan, a resident of Chrompet and a regular buyer of crackers at Island Grounds, said, it hardly matters for customers whether the cracker are green. “We just want sound and colour. That’s what Diwali is all about.”

Hoping to get ‘green crackers’ in 2020, both Ramya and Sriram have decided not to burst crackers this year.

Green crackers apart, the sale of crackers in general has been subdued this year. At the Island Grounds, the large number of workers who have been employed to woo customers into shops, seem to outnumber the customers. “The weather is playing spoilsport, and retail customers are not willing to buy crackers as they are too expensive, confesses an employees. Only companies are buying in bulk, that too, gift boxes,” rues a shopkeeper.

Published on October 25, 2019

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