Green crackers supply uncertain this Diwali

The supply of green crackers is uncertain even in this Diwali notwithstanding the development of eco-friendly alternatives by scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

This is because the manufacturers at Sivakasi have received too little time to undertake the stability tests for the new green fireworks, which is essential before the commercial production of such crackers developed in accordance with the Supreme Court directive.

Following the apex court's last year's order, a consortium of nine CSIR laboratories came up with two categories of alternatives – “new” crackers without barium salt and “improved” crackers with a lesser quantity of barium. Both would lead to a 30-35% emission reduction.

While manufacturers have no legal issues in going ahead with the commercial production of “new” crackers, there is a legal hurdle on “improved” crackers as the top court in its order had prohibited the use of barium salt.

Manufacturers and CSIR scientists hope a clarity would emerge from the judiciary on October 22, the next day of the hearing.

Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said nearly 230 memorandums of understanding and 165 non-disclosure agreements had been signed with the fireworks manufacturers.

Also, 530 emission certificates have been issued testifying that emissions from such products are at par with the SC-specified norms.

The products developed by CSIR and licensed to the industry include sound-emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar, and sparklers.

A technical committee with officials from National Environment Engineering Research Institute, Central Pollution Control Board and Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation first came out with the definition of green crackers following which the CSIR consortium developed the crackers.

“The cost of these products are either lower or at par with conventional crackers. The emission is at least 30% less and so is the sound level,” said Rakesh Kumar, Director, NEERI, which spearheaded the initiative.

"We need nearly six months of time for stability testing as we supply crackers to areas under different climatic conditions. Also, time is required to organise the labours, who went back to their homes because of the uncertainty in the industry. Despite such odds, we will try our level best to supply some amount of green crackers to the market,” T K Balaji, proprietor of Sri Balaji Fire Works, a Sivakasi-based company that took up the CSIR products told DH.

“From next year, we expect to resume the full supply,” he added.

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