How SC’s Intervention Has Forced Units To Shut Down In Country’s Firecracker Manufacturing Hub In Tamil Nadu
How SC’s Intervention Has Forced Units To Shut Down In Country’s Firecracker Manufacturing Hub In Tamil NaduA women work at a manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu’s Sivakasi. (PTI)

The Supreme Court’s decision to ban the sale of firecrackers in Delhi during Diwali – often called ‘a textbook case of judicial overreach’ – failed miserably, as had been suggested before the enforcement of the ruling. The decision intended to clean Delhi’s air, however, has forced firecracker manufacturing units in Sivakasi, a town in Tamil Nadu known as India’s fireworks production hub, into a shutdown.

Also called kutti Japan (mini-Japan), the town, located around 480 km from Chennai, produces 85 per cent of the country’s firecrackers in 820 odd units and provides livelihood to over eight lakh people from different parts of India.

But now, according to Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA), dealers are not ready to pay advance after a petition was filed in the apex Court seeking a countrywide ban on sale of firecrackers. As a result, hundreds of units in Sivakasi have been unable to arrange working capital. Over 90 per cent of the working capital requirement is met by advance payments by dealers from northern states. This practice has been in place for over 80 years.

According to TANFAMA secretary K Mariappan, dealers, fearing an “adverse” ruling by the top court, have not sent advance this year. Many of these dealers, based in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, had gone bankrupt due to the pre-Diwali ban on cracker sale, Mariappan told Hindustan Times.

“We are tired and cannot fight the battle on our own,” he said, adding “now we are mobilising all the interconnected industries’ representatives to join hands.”

TANFAMA has invited fireworks manufacturers, transporters, dealers, sales agents, raw material suppliers and labour union representatives to attend the meeting of All India Federation of Fireworks Associations (AIFA) on 28 December. The federation aims to chalk out its future course of action at the meeting in Sivakasi.

“We people in Sivakasi are tired of fighting … look forward to you for your help and support ... in having a historical win against the enemies of Diwali and fireworks,” the TANFAMA’s invitation to AIFA members reads.

Although the association was initially expecting a favourable decision from the Supreme Court, it became apprehensive after the top court sought the opinion from the Centre and state governments for a ban on the sale of firecrackers across India.

On being asked about environmental concerns, the TANFAMA secretary pointed out the fact that Delhi’s air remained polluted long after Diwali was over.

"It is to everybody's knowledge that even without fireworks, Diwali 2017 witnessed high peaks in the pollution levels,” he added.

Smoke from stubble burning in neighbouring states have been identified as the main cause of pollution in the national capital.

“The livelihood question of over 8 lakh people depends on our winning the fight against the enemies of Diwali,” Mariappan said.

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