Diwali prohibition impacts sales in fireworks industry in Sivakasi

The apex court had banned the use of barium in 2018 in making firecrackers and it was reconfirmed in 2021, putting the fireworks industry in Sivakasi the firecrackers' hub of the country and around three lakh workers directly employed in around 1,000 organised units there, in a tight spot. Production of fireworks in Sivakasi, Virudhunagar district, is yet to pick up even as there is just a month to go for the festival of lights Diwali

Firecracker manufacturers in Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu are a worried lot that the prevailing Supreme Court ban on barium in the fireworks industry could take away the glitter out of the business in the upcoming Diwali season. The apex court had banned the use of barium in 2018 in making firecrackers and it was reconfirmed in 2021, putting the fireworks industry in Sivakasi the firecrackers' hub of the country— and around three lakh workers directly employed in around 1,000 organised units there, in a tight spot. After the SC had reconfirmed the ban in 2021, many of the stakeholders have impleaded in the case seeking lifting of the ban.

A Murali, Vice President, Sivakasi Fireworks Manufacturers Association said "The ban of barium is baseless imposed without any scientific study being conducted on the possible hazardous impact with regards to the pollution. Murali said there are three lakh people employed in the Sivakasi belt alone, with another four lakh indirectly who are supplying raw materials like chemicals and printed boards, among others. " We are being targeted because of the hue and cry of the environmentalists in the name of pollution, although other sectors as well are using barium in various production operations. I should say that we are the weaker opponent and are being made scapegoats," he said.

According to him, barium is one of the main oxidisers for most of the fireworks and with the ban, they are unable to make a lot of products. " After the ban, my factories are running at 50% capacity and reduced production by 50% to 60% which obviously impacted the business. For instance, I have a group of companies which employs 450 to 500 workers and after the ban I could employ 200 people only," he said.

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