Govt gets cracking against illegal import of Chinese firecrackers

2nd September 2015

- The Hindu Business Line

Govt gets cracking against illegal import of Chinese firecrackers


With Chinese fireworks finding their way into the Indian market despite import restrictions, the government has sprung into action well before the festival season to check the smuggling of the cheap but dangerous crackers from across the border.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has already written to the Central Bureau of Excise and Customs and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) to take pre-emptive action to stop illegal imports, an official from the DGFT told BusinessLine.

“The DGFT has asked the Customs Department to sensitise its officers on the possibility of smuggling of firecrackers from China through mis-representation of cargo. The illegal shipments usually start sometime in September so there is still time to step up vigil,” the official said. Firecrackers are often camouflaged as toys when shipped illegally from China. Unlike toys, firecracker is a restricted item and cannot be imported without licence. Since the DGFT refrains from giving licence, firecracker import is practically banned.

The DGFT has also written to the DIPP asking it to persuade State governments to alert their police forces and ensure frequent raids on shops that sell illegally procured crackers. The States will also be asked to advertise against smuggled Chinese crackers to raise awareness amongst people who may not know about the import restrictions and also the associated health hazards.

“Most Chinese crackers have potassium chlorate, a highly explosive chemical, which is banned in India,” the official said.

Domestic units complain
It is at the behest of the domestic firecracker industry, which suffered an estimated loss of ₹200-400 crore last year because of illegal imports from China, that the government is attempting to act early this time. “Representatives of the firecracker industry met us and voiced their concern over the huge losses they might suffer this year as well if the government doesn’t act on time,” the DGFT official said.

Manufacturers from Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, accounting for almost 80 per cent of firecrackers produced in the country, had told the government that nearly 35 per cent of their products were unsold last year because of smuggled Chinese fireworks. In India, the firecracker industry is estimated at ₹3,000 crore and supports more than five lakh people.

The Department of Revenue Intelligence has given notices to a number of traders for illegally importing fireworks from China last year.

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