‘Exports will help in earning foreign exchange and growth of industry will generate job opportunities’

The fireworks industry in Sivakasi is set to tap the huge global market for crackers as officials of VOC Port Trust in Tuticorin on Friday decided to allow the export of fireworks through the port.

A meeting chaired by Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan was held here to address various issues concerning the fireworks industry, including exports and improving safety standards and reviving the defunct Fireworks Research and Development Centre (FRDC). The Minister proposed setting up a special economic zone for cracker units, meant exclusively for export, in Virudhunagar district and establishing a fireworks magazine-cum-cargo house in the vicinity of the VOC Port, after obtaining a licence from the Petroleum and Safety Organisation (PESO).

Mr. Natchiappan said that crackers worth only Rs. 1.5 crore were exported from Mumbai port last year. “The global market for fireworks is worth Rs. 1,500 crore. China has been the major exporter though Indian fireworks are of superior quality,” he noted.

As only smaller vessels were being operated, goods exported to European countries had to be transhipped to bigger vessels either in Colombo or Singapore. “But both these countries do not give no-objection (certificates) for transhipment of fireworks at their ports. Hence, the crackers have to be transported to Mumbai,” he added.

Increased cracker exports from the VOC Port would help the country earn more foreign exchange, boost the growth of the industry and generate more employment opportunities, he said. The Chief Controller of Explosives, Nagpur, T.R. Thomas, and Deputy Chairman of VOC Port Trust, S. Natarajan, participated in the meeting.

Mr. Natarajan said the VOC port was open to export of fireworks. However, the fireworks manufacturers and exporters need to negotiate with the representatives of shipping lines, and secure permission to allow transportation of the crackers.

The Minister asked officials of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to take over the defunct FRDC at Sivakasi. The research centre had been set up on five acres of land in Sivakasi at a cost of Rs. 5.84 crore. The laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment worth over Rs. 2 crore were not put to good use owing to shortage of scientists.

Though the industry representatives wanted reclassification of fireworks to enable shipping companies to pick up their consignments, the Chief Controller of Explosives said it was a difficult task.

The Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives (Sivakasi), R. Venugopal, officials of CISR, Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association, president A.P. Selvarajan, general secretary A. Asaithambi, and office-bearers of The Indian Fireworks Manufacturers Association A.S. Arjun Raja and T. Kannan were among those who took part in the meeting.