Govt readies to defuse Chinese firecrackers ahead of Diwali

14th October 2016

- India Today

Govt readies to defuse Chinese firecrackers ahead of Diwali Celebration

A day after six cargo containers of Chinese firecrackers were seized in Delhi, the ministry of commerce and industry asked Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Customs and state authorities to step up vigil against the banned crackers.

Amid concerns that Chinese firecrackers are continuing to find ways into Indian markets through illegal routes ahead of Diwali festival, the ministry of commerce and industry has asked Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Customs and state authorities to step up vigil against the banned firecrackers. On Saturday, the Delhi zonal unit of DRI seized several cargo containers of Chinese fireworks which were smuggled under the name of medical equipment.


Mail Today, on September 10, reported that Chinese firecrackers worth Rs 1,500 crore are smuggled through seaports under false declarations before Diwali despite a nationwide ban. These firecrackers contain potassium chlorate, an explosive chemical that is banned in India.

"Advisories have been issued to the agencies to keep a check on imports of Made-in-China crackers," Shailendra Singh, joint secretary in the ministry told Mail Today. Singh said the government has not given any licence for import of Chinese fireworks so far. "The matter was taken up with chief ministers of states for directing authorities concerned for keeping close vigil on clandestine import of fireworks and its sale," he said.

Officials said that advertisements were also published across the country to sensitise public against using illegally imported fireworks and their harmful effects. District authorities, DRI and Customs have also been asked to initiate strict action against illegal importers and sellers.

Indian firecracker manufacturers, however, said the government seizures were only the tip of the iceberg. K Mariappan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers association, told Mail Today: "Chinese fireworks are being smuggled into India through main Indian Sea Ports namely Kandla, Nhava Sheva (Mumbai), Tuticorin, Chennai, ICD Tuglagabad and Kolkata. It enters under false declarations in the name of toys or electronic goods."

Mariappan said clandestine Chinese fireworks were flooding the markets and ahead of Diwali their activities reach the peak. He said nearly 2,000 containers of Chinese fireworks valued about Rs1,500 crores are being sold in Indian markets every year.
DRI officials said many instances of smuggling have come to light during the year. The containers of crackers enter the country under the guise of different items such as toys or sports items. "The illegally imported firecrackers seized on Saturday from six big containers at Inland Container Depot in Tughlaqabad were misdeclared as medical equipment for handicapped persons and bicycle parts," said a DRI official, who requested anonymity.

The market value of the Saturday seizure, carrying brand names such as Leopard King, Pop Pop Snappers, is around Rs 9 crore. "The DRI raid was on the basis of inside information. Officials found on examination a few cartons of bicycle saddles, iron baskets, steel wheel chairs, commode chairs, in the front portion of the containers, behind which cartons of fire crackers were kept hidden to avoid detection by the customs officers," the DRI official said.

The firecrackers were imported by a Punjab-based importer allegedly by using a dummy import-export code in connivance with a Delhi-based customs broker. Both of them were arrested, officials said.

Chinese crackers are cheaper but Indian manufacturers claim that these crackers contain a lot health hazards.
"It is cheaper because of the use of chemicals like potassium chlorate and per-chlorates which are banned in India as it is not safe for the Indian climate," Maiappan of TANFAMA said. "In Sivakasi as well as in many parts of the country where the temperature is always hot, it will prove to be lethal if chlorates and perchlorates are used in fireworks."

Moreover, the manufacturers claimed that unlike Indian products, Chinese fireworks do not adhere to any noise standard.

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