China calls: In Sivakasi dud Diwali looms

26th August 2014

Courtesy: The Times of India

China calls: In Sivakasi dud Diwali looms

As Diwali advances, Sivakasi - the country-s fireworks hub - buzzes with activity, manufacturing fireworks to light up the sky. But manufacturers are apprehensive that smuggled Chinese fireworks may impact them a great deal. This year has been a period of turmoil for both manufacturers and workers of fireworks units in Sivakasi. The units closed down indefinitely for two weeks in the month of May as the owners protested against a hike in explosive license fee, but the underlying fear driving the agitation was Chinese fireworks smuggled into India.

AMSG Ashokan of "We Two" brand estimates that roughly 500 containers full of Chinese fireworks may be smuggled in for diwali this year, essentially to cater to north Indian markets. "Sivakasi is steadily losing its share of fireworks business since many units have come up in North India too. We will lose more, if Chinese fireworks are not curtailed from entering Indian markets illegally," he said.

In the month of May, officials seized consignments of Chinese fireworks within Sivakasi which opened a can of worms. It was alleged that some manufacturers were involved in the import of Chinese fireworks.

More than the bigger players who have established a brand name across the country, smaller players in industry will be worst hit by Chinese products, said N Raja, president of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Workers Protection Movement in Sivakasi. "The wholesale merchants in the north may prefer branded Indian fireworks and substitute the rest of demand with Chinese fireworks," he said. T Kannan, secretary of The Indian Fireworks Manufacturers Association (TIFMA) in Sivakasi, says that Chinese fireworks are openly sold in Delhi. Many officials are not aware that Chinese fireworks are illegal and have been smuggled into the country, he said.

Sivakasi manufacturers say that Chinese fireworks contain chlorides and perchlorides. The use of these chemicals in fireworks manufacturing is banned in our country since these chemicals are highly volatile and environmentally hazardous.

"Chlorides give Chinese fireworks more colour and better display but they are dangerous for consumers," said A Mariappan, vice president of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association. After the Chinese fireworks were seized in Sivakasi, the manufacturers took to the high court bench in Madurai demanding that the government should act. However it was revealed that not all containers could be screened in harbours making it difficult for authorities to curb Chinese fireworks import. Suppliers hope the court will ask Centre to crack down. "All we need from the Union ministry is that it should publicize the fact that Chinese fireworks are illegal," says Mariappan.

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