The Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturer’s Association (TNFAM), a group that represents firecracker manufacturers in the state of Tamil Nadu, has said that various state governments had granted them temporary license to produce and sell crackers before imposing an arbitrary ban on crackers ahead of Diwali.
In a written submission to the NGT in the first week of November, the crackers manufacturers association had mentioned that they had written letters to all Chief Ministers of the states as early as September 9 2020 September itself, requesting to issue temporary license for fireworks shop ahead of Diwali. The association had informed the tribunal that many Governments had responded to them positively that it will do the needful and started the process of issuing licenses.
The TNFAM said, with this confidence fireworks were produced and sent to the wholesalers of all state. It added that huge loans were availed by manufacturers and dealers for the production and purchase of the same and none of the governments had informed them saying that fireworks will not be allowed this year as soon as they got the representation from the firecracker industry.
“Though fireworks are daily burst there were only 15 fresh Covid-19 cases on November 5 in the entire district. Nowhere in the world has any country banned fireworks during the Covid pandemic while celebrating their festivals,” the association said rejecting the argument that crackers aggravated the coronavirus pandemic.
Firecracker ban can hurt 8 lakh workers and 1,200 firework factories
Further, in its submission, the TNFAM had stated that there are more than 1200 fireworks factories and more than 8 lakh people are directly or indirectly employed in the industry.
In its submission before the NGT, which heard the petition a ban on fireworks across NCR, the TNFAM had informed that if the fireworks are banned at the last hour, nothing will be left of the firecracker Industry or of the 8 lakh workers.
“That the proposed suggestive ban on the use of firecrackers has sent shivers down the spine of the sellers who are anyway facing acute financial hardship owing to the present pandemic,” the crackers industry had submitted before the NGT on November 8.
Interestingly, the TNFAM had pointed out to research data that highlighted how 42% pollution is because of stubble burning and not by the burning of crackers per se. It had also submitted a IIT research paper to show that fireworks accounted for less than 0.1 per cent of the air pollution.
States imposed ban after granting license to sell, says crackers industry body
However, after promising and positively responding to the crackers industry that they would not ban the sale of firecrackers, various states have imposed arbitrary bans on the sale of crackers ahead of Diwali citing air pollution amidst the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Reportedly, the ban on sale and bursting of firecrackers by five states may result in 45 per cent loss of market this Deepavali season for manufacturers in Sivakasi, the fireworks hub of India that accounts for 90 per cent of crackers produced in the country.
Rajasthan was the first state to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers followed by Odisha, Delhi, West Bengal, and Karnataka, which had been issuing the licence to set up cracker shops till the November 4.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) also imposed a total ban on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the NCR from November 9 till December 1, 2020. While passing the order the Tribunal had said that the order to ban crackers will also apply to all cities/towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November fell under ‘poor’ and above (worse) category.
It seems like NGT, without taking the consent given by various states to produce and sell crackers and also the promise made by them not to impose any ban on firecrackers, imposed a ban on sale of crackers pushing the entire crackers industry towards huge financial losses.