Coimbatore

Green crackers’ market sees red

Fireworks on sale at a shop on Sanganoor road in the city.

Fireworks on sale at a shop on Sanganoor road in the city.   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

Uncertainty looms over Supreme Court order

Firecracker stalls in the district are gearing up for the busiest business days of the year with merely four days left for Deepavali.

For the first time, low-polluting green firecrackers have come to the market after the Supreme Court ordered a ban on conventional firecrackers with more emission levels last year.

Manufacturers were asked to make green firecrackers developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI). However, there is clear uncertainty over the authority which has to check the compliance to the apex court ruling on green firecrackers.

As per statistics provided by the Fire and Rescue Services, temporary licences were issued to 512 persons to sell fireworks for Deepavali.

S. Vijayasekar, Joint Director (Western Region), Fire and Rescue Services, said that the Department did not have the authority to lift samples and test firecrackers. Also, no directions were received to check compliance to green firecrackers for the time being.

“It is impossible to visually assess whether a firecracker kept for sale at the shop is made based on the standards enlisted for green firecrackers. It is also difficult to assume that all firecrackers bearing the label of green firecrackers are indeed green firecrackers. The Department also does not have laboratories to test suspected samples, if required,” he said.

Police Commissioner Sumit Sharan said that the role of the police in the cracker sale was to ensure that licences were issued to those who complies with all the necessary requirements to put a stall.

Though The Hindu tried to get comments from one of the District Environmental Engineers, the official did not respond.

As per readings done by the Pollution Control Board, the pollution level on Deepavali day last year was 60.46 PPM (parts per million) against the pollution level of 40 to 50 PPM recorded on normal days.

According to consumer rights activist K. Kathirmathiyon, the order banning conventional firecrackers might not be implemented this year as the Government could not stop them at manufacturing level. Also, the Government has not specified the authority who should check the compliance and the type of action to be taken against the violators.

“Awareness should also be created among the manufacturers, traders and buyers on what is green firecrackers,” he added.

Meanwhile, a check done by The Hindu at a few cracker stalls found that conventional crackers were also displayed for sale with minimal stocks of fireworks bearing the label of green firecrackers.

Unlike conventional firecrackers, a very few varieties of the low-polluting alternatives have hit the markets.

K. Sivakumar, treasurer of Coimbatore District Firecrackers Small Traders Welfare Association, said that the number of the new alternatives were limited which may affect the sales. Those labelled as green fireworks emit less light and sound, thereby reducing the pollution levels, he said.

“The green fireworks come in the market include flowerpots, sparklers and chakkras that are mainly meant for children. Stocks of costly varieties have reduced this year,” he said.

According to Mr. Sivakumar, fireworks worth anywhere between ₹ 10 crore to 15 crore were sold in Coimbatore district for Deepavali last year. The association expects a dip in the sale this year due to reasons such as the apex court regulations, economic slow down and the heavy spells of North East Monsoon which the region have been receiving in the last several days.

Mr. Sharan added that the police will enforce last year's Supreme Court ruling which said that crackers can be fired only during the two-hour window period which is fixed by the State Government. Tamil Nadu Government had fixed the timings as 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on last Deepavali. The Government is yet to make any announcements regarding the timings for this Deepavali.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 6:03:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/green-crackers-market-sees-red/article29771570.ece

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