No clearance for Chinese crackers

13th September 2015

- The Hindu

No clearance for Chinese crackers

Nirmala Sitharaman says it is State government’s responsibility to take action

The Centre has not given any clearance for import of Chinese crackers and has in fact asked all State governments to take action against any illegal shipment of such products, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Nirmala Sitharaman said here in Chennai.

“It is the responsibility of the State government. We have requested for action to be taken against those involved in import of Chinese crackers,” she said.

Chinese fireworks are a big a threat to Tamil Nadu, as 80 per cent of them come from here. Sivakasi, 75 km from Madurai, is the fireworks hub of India, employing more than two lakh people directly and indirectly. The firecracker industry started here in the 1960s and is synonymous with the town. Crackers are also produced in places such as Indore, Raipur, Nagpur, and certain parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Sensing that the Chinese firecrackers would hamper the industry at Sivakasi, which is worth more than Rs 5,000 crore, the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association (TANFAMA), an association representing members of the industry has appealed to the Centre and submitted a letter last week on this issue.

In its letter, TANFAMA mentioned that although fireworks had been classified as a restricted commodity for import by the DGFT, Chinese fireworks have been illegally imported for the last few years, and this has grown to become a menace to the indigenous fireworks industry. Hence, this practice must be curbed with war footing.

“The Centre is taking all actions to curb Chinese crackers. We want them to sensitise this issue and take action whenever they seize such products,” G Abiruben, President, TANFAMA said.

As many as 500 containers of Chinese fireworks enter India every year in the name of toys and electronic goods. Because of this, industry members say, Sivakasi incurred a loss of Rs 1,000 crore (ballpark figure).

PCA Asaithambi, partner at Lord Fireworks, says, “Last year, some of these Chinese crackers could not be sold because of regular monitoring during the festive season. But these products were sold when no one is watching.”

A P Selvaraj, managing partner of Kaliswari Fireworks, says, “This year, production has been low so the government should look this issue seriously,” he requests.

‘Not safe to use’

“We are saying no to Chinese fireworks not because of competition. These crackers are not safe to use and can explode,” explains Asaithambi. The Chinese crackers contain high level of potassium chlorate, a hazardous chemical. Using this chemical reduces the cost of manufacturing crackers. In India, potassium nitrate and aluminium powder are the key raw material used by the industry.

“The price of these two chemicals is slightly higher. So, the cost of crackers made here is more than that of Chinese crackers. People should realise that safety is more important than cost,” said another cracker-maker in Sivakasi.

Chinese fireworks are a big a threat to Tamil Nadu, as 80 per cent of them come from Sivakasi

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