With Diwali nearing, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has flagged the import of foreign-made fireworks illegally using false declarations.

Fireworks have been declared as a restricted item under Indian Trade Classification (Harmonised System) — ITC (HS) with respect to imports. To date, no licence for the import of fireworks has been granted for possession and/or sale under the Explosives Rules, 2008, by PESO.

The smuggled fireworks of foreign origins include the chemical ‘potassium chlorate’, which is a dangerous and hazardous chemical and can ignite or explode spontaneously. The fireworks can cause severe accidents and endanger lives in addition to posing a host of environmental and health issues.

Possession and sale of fireworks of foreign origin in India is illegal and punishable under law. Information about possession and/or sale of such fireworks may be reported to the nearest police station for suitable action, PESO said.

A source said some trading importers are importing fireworks misdeclaring the goods(changing the cargo name). It is very difficult to check this.

An official of a leading manufacturer of fireworks in Sivakasi said that the clandestine import of fireworks comes as toys are escaping the scan of Customs. It may come via road from Nepal or Bangladesh. It is very difficult to check.

Consumers are innocent. The label of illegal fireworks never mentions where they are made. The department says the tiny ‘bangers’ that are thrown on the floor and called ‘vengaya vedy’ (onion fireworks) are dangerous for kids. This was banned by the department and none of the factories in Sivakasi produce such products. Similarly, officials must catch the traders who are selling the illegal fireworks, he said.

The Supreme Court in a judgement on September 12, 2017, in the matter of Arjun Gopal & ors. Vs UOI & ors, said, “The Union of India will ensure strict compliance with the Notification GSR No. 64 (E) dated January 27, 1992, regarding the ban on the import of fireworks. The Union of India is at liberty to update and revise this notification in view of the passage of time and further knowledge gained over the last 25 years and issue afresh notification, if necessary.”