Even as most sectors are sparkling, emerging from the pandemic and hoping to celebrate Diwali with zeal, Sivakasi’s fireworks industry is fizzling out.

At ₹800 crore, the industry’s output is expected to be a quarter of last year’s and just a tenth of what it was five years ago.

Fireworks units which, in all, employed about 8 lakh people at the peak now have less than 50 per cent of that number.

Many units, especially the small ones, have shut shop.

Uncertainty appears to be the key cause. Delhi and Rajasthan have already banned crackers this year and the fear is that many other States may follow suit.

“Due to this uncertainty, production is just 25-30 per cent of last year,” said Rajasingh Chelladurai, Managing Director of Jumbo Fireworks.

“Unable to bear the financial strain, we had closed down two units, leaving nearly 2,000 workers jobless. This is the case with most other manufacturers. The industry is dying,” he added. There are nearly a thousand firework units in Sivakasi.

Green crackers

Many manufacturers have embraced green crackers to survive. “Green crackers will be the norm this year,” said G Abiruben, Managing Director, Ayyan Fireworks Factory (P) Ltd. “In our tagline we have added ‘Socially Responsible Fireworks and Quality You Can Trust’,” he added.

But this is unlikely to help by much. Big companies have the wherewithal to produce green crackers but smaller ones are unable to adhere to the new norms of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). That apart, each product has to be certified by NEERI and then approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation.

This is proving to be impossible. The industry, in all, will need one lakh licences but only 5-10 licences are issued every day, said an exasperated manufacturer. The Apex Court last week pulled up some units for violating its ban on use of toxic ingredients.

This has left the industry more worried about its future.