Shops gear up for a green Deepavali

Shops gear up for a green Deepavali

Karnataka govt hasn’t issued guidelines about the sale and use of firecrackers yet but shops are prepared for the last-minute rush

Sree Jyothi Stores in Mamulpet, is yet to see a steady stream of customers. They hope sales will pick up closer to Deepavali celebrated between November 3 and 5. DH Photos by B K Janardhan

Unlike Delhi, Odisha and Chandigarh that have put a complete ban on firecrackers, Karnataka may allow green crackers this Deepavali. 

The guidelines haven’t yet come in but the 2020 Karnataka government order permitting the sale and use of green crackers is likely to continue, officials from the state pollution control board tell Metrolife.  

The green crackers directive aims to reduce emissions during the festival by 30-35% and is in line with the 2018 Supreme Court ruling.

The firecracker shops have stocked up on green crackers in anticipation of the announcement. 

“Our businesses had dipped by 20% last year but we hope to make up for the loss this time. Sales are slowly picking up,” P Ganesan, president of the Tamil Nadu association and director of Vinayaka Sonni Fireworks Group, tells Metrolife. Traders from Karnataka, particularly Bengaluru, source green crackers from his association. 

And the options of green crackers are aplenty. He says about 650 factories that are attached to the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association, and Indian Fireworks Manufacturers’ Association have started manufacturing green crackers. 

Council of Scientific Industrial Research’s National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has been researching ways to reduce firecracker pollution. 

NEERI has signed nearly 230 MoUs and 165 non-disclosure agreements with firework manufacturers to help them with technologies to make green crackers, he informs. “It has also issued 530 emission testing certificates to fireworks manufacturers for new and improved formulations that meet the stipulated guidelines of green crackers,” he adds.

Are green crackers better?

A senior scientist with CSIR-NEERI tells Metrolife that green crackers reduce particulate matter, NO2 and SO2 emissions by 30-35%. This, in turn, can reduce health hazards. 

“NEERI has developed new formulations for sound- and light-emitting crackers, some without the use of barium nitrate, which was banned in 2018,” he gives an example.  

But gaps remain. A senior official with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, says, “Green crackers don’t bring down the content of heavy metals, which are added to emit different colours. Heavy metals are considered the main pollutant. These chemicals cause lung cancer and extreme skin irritation. Barium nitrate, in particular, causes irritation in the respiratory tract and muscular weakness.”  

How to identify green crackers 

Look for the green logos of CSIR-NEERI and PESO (Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation) as well as a QR code on the boxes. You can scan the QR code on the NEERI mobile app and see the contents used in making the crackers.

Hosur prices are hurting city business

Chickpet, Sultanpet, T C Palya, Gandhinagar, Avenue Road, Mamulpet, and Yelahanka are the main areas in Bengaluru to shop for Deepavali crackers. But people usually flock to shops in Hosur to score cheaper crackers. 

This indiscriminate pricing and lack of government regulation have affected the business in the city, say traders. 

Madan Kumar, a member of Karnataka Wholesale Fireworks Dealers Association, which has 23 traders on its roll, says their business has dropped by almost 70 per cent.

“While traders within the city adhere to manufacturing standards set by NEERI, those selling crackers in Hosur offer huge discounts and don’t follow the guidelines,” he complains. 

He gives an example, “Rainbow Fog is sold at Rs 1,798 in the city and the same is sold at Rs 5,798 in Hosur. The Hosur shops inflate the MRP and then offer huge discounts. So people who come to us expect us to give similar discounts. We end up losing customers and making losses.” The government is also losing revenue because of this, he says. 

Jayaram Bhandarkar, owner of Bhandarkar And Sons, a counter weighing scale dealer on Avenue Road, sells crackers only during Deepavali. This year, he has bought crackers worth Rs 5 lakh. 

“We have bought very little this year because we weren’t sure if the third wave would hit as predicted. We always do moderate business because the traders in Hosur put their own MRP and offer huge discounts,” explains Jayaram. He increases his prices only marginally.

 At the old-time Sree Jyothi Stores in Mamulpet, the sales are down by 80 per cent. It may be because people have relocated to other places, or people fear Covid, or because of the lack of awareness about green crackers, says owner Jagadish Paranjothi. “Non-regulation of traders in Hosur is a cause of worry,” he adds. 

The higher rents and strict rules within the city limits are forcing traders to open shops in the outskirts, informs a trader in Chickpet, who has been in the business for 30 years.

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