This Diwali will see green crackers taking centre-stage with the country’s fireworks hub here rolling out the eco-friendly varieties which have reduced emission of harmful chemicals and low sound, in line with the Supreme Court’s order.

After a gloomy 2018 in the wake of the Supreme Court banning the conventional crackers on pollution grounds, the industry which provides livelihood to eight lakh people in and around Sivakasi, over 550 km from Chennai, is hopeful of meeting the demand for green crackers in the coming season.

The change to green crackers after extensive experiments marks revival of the industry which has over 1,000 manufacturing units in the town and used to clock an annual turnover of over Rs 6,000 crore.

According to Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association (TNFAMA), the apex body of the industry in the state, labourers had been trained in batches to produce green crackers and there would be no problem in meeting the market demand for Diwali season, which falls on October 27.

“The manufacture of fireworks was held up for a period of about four months (this year) due to the Supreme Court order banning conventional crackers in 2018...Then the Central and the Tamil Nadu governments helped us in skill training for manufacturing green crackers with 30 per cent less emission,” TNFAMA President P Ganesan said.

Less pollution

The manufacture of green crackers started in March this year following successful experiments and training imparted in association with the Nagpur-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Based on the experiments, it was found that green crackers could be made by using substitution chemical for barirum nitrate to the tune of 20 per cent.

Green crackers, Ganesan claimed, would bring down the emission of pollutants by around 30 per cent while the noise level would be around 125 decibel(dB), down from 160dB. Though it still exceeded the standard of 90dB, efforts were on to fine tune it further. He cited lack of sufficient time for being unable to print the green logo and put in place the Quick Response (QR) coding system. “We hope that the Supreme Court would allow us to sell the green crackers without these,” he said.

Laying down two-hour time frame for bursting fireworks on festival days, the top court had in October last year ruled that only green crackers with reduced emission would be permitted to be manufactured and sold across the country.

The fireworks manufacturing units had gone on an indefinite strike last year demanding the lifting of the restrictions on bursting of crackers. However, following the initiative of the state government, the industry in association with CSIR-NEERI started work on production of green crackers.

Ganesan said from next year green crackers would be available in the market with logo and QR barcode. He assured that the reduction in chemical level will not have any impact on the variety of crackers that would be available. “The accidents in the fireworks units have come down due to improved safety measures,” Ganesan added.

Noting that about 40 varieties of crackers exceeded the decibel level limit, Arumugam, a local quality control official, said that the noise level this year would be lesser compared to previous years. He also said CSIR and NEERI were helping around 230 manufacturers in producing green crackers by providing their expertise and training the employees in batches.

Skilling workers

Mariappan, a labourer at a fireworks unit, who underwent one-month long training, said they were impressed with the process. Kaliamoorthy, another employee of a local fireworks factory, said a variety of green crackers could be made with the new forumulation of chemicals.

Ganesan said around 75 per cent of the manufacturers “are satisfied with the role of the NEERI and CSIR...They are convincing the other manufacturers also to follow suit.”

The NEERI had set up test, research and training units here for green crackers. He said depots here have started selling green crackers and the sales was picking up.

Voicing concern over import of Chinese fireworks, Ganesan said green crackers were cheaper to manufacture, caused less pollution, but they would make a mark in the market only if those from China were not imported and illegal cracker units were shut.