Diwali is around the corner and so is the season of firecrackers. Firecrackers in India have been associated with culture, tradition, and celebration for ages and the worst part is that most of the time, it is the parents who encourage their kids to light firecrackers.
The first fireworks factory in India was set up in Kolkata in the nineteenth century. After Independence, Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu emerged as India’s Firecracker hub, benefitting from the restrictions of imports of firecrackers.
The Indian firecracker industry is the second largest in the world. India is among the top for a very simple reason – Human resources. Being the second most populated country in the world gives us the single most important resource that sustains industries. India also has a festival that necessitates a large industry. India is among the top for a very simple reason – Human resource. Being the second most populated country in the world gives us this single most important resource that sustains industries. India also has a festival that necessitates a large industry.
In the early 1900s, a gentleman by the name of Dasgupta was running a match factory in Kolkata. Driven out of Sivakasi by its draught and famine, two brothers –Shanmuga Nadar and P Ayya Nadar – found their way to this factory in search of employment. Having learnt the clockworks of a match factory, the two cousins then returned to Sivakasi to begin their own enterprise.
Firecracker industry has witnessed several tragic accidents due to lack of proper storage facilities and guidelines. Since Sivakasi holds 85 % of manufacturing of firecrackers in the country, FRDC has been established to set quality and safety standards for the entire industry.
As per the “Environment Protection Act, 1986 and the Environment Protection Rule, 1986 and 1999 (amendment) rules”;
“The manufacture, sale or use of firecrackers generating noise level exceeding 125 dB(AI) or 145 dB(C) pk at 4 meters distance from the point of bursting shall be prohibited.”
The global market for fireworks was estimated to be worth $2485.7 million in 2021 and is expected to grow to $3219.9 million by the year 2027. In 2021, the value of manufactured fireworks was close to INR 1500 crores, reduced by 50% compared to the previous year. Even with less production, the industry witnessed an estimated loss of INR 500 crores.
Because fireworks have been categorized under restrictive items by the Director General of Foreign trade, the Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) has not granted licenses to anyone to import them, not only from China but from other countries that manufacture as well.
Going forward, if the firecracker industry has to survive and thrive, it has to undergo a transition to make it environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive and contribute towards decent work for all those who are dependent on it. The industry has to be supported by enabling government policies, promote innovation, and be based on a coherent framework.