Covid-19 blows out Sivakasi's Deepavali sparkle

Tamil Nadu: Covid-19 blows out Sivakasi's Deepavali sparkle

Several manufacturers in the fireworks hub of Sivakasi, 540 km from here, say they could use only 70% of their production capacity

The Covid-19 induced lockdown led to the shutting down of fireworks' manufacturing units in Sivakasi for 55 days leading to a steep fall of over 30 per cent in the production of firecrackers.

Now, the coronavirus scare threatens to play a spoilsport for the already suffering industry with dealers across the country reducing their orders for firecrackers due to “less demand” from people.

Several manufacturers in the fireworks hub of Sivakasi, 540 km from here, say they could use only 70 per cent of their production capacity and are not sure of even selling the produced goods this Deepavali season. While large manufacturers claim to have pushed nearly 75 per cent of their goods out of Sivakasi, the small factories are the worst affected staring at losses to the tune of crores of rupees.

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The industry, which has been suffering losses for the past few years due to uncertainty over court cases, had hoped to turn the tide this year after adapting to green crackers that emit 30 per cent less 2.5 particulate matter reducing air pollution. 

The manufacturers say that dealers, especially from those in North India, have reduced their orders from Sivakasi fearing a reduction in sales of firecrackers due to Covid–19. Adding to their woes is the state governments' restricting the number of cracker shops this year as part of the efforts to contain further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Fireworks' manufacturers in Sivakasi begin production for the next Deepavali a few weeks after the festivities end based on advance payment from dealers and buyers across the country.

"We have fulfilled all orders that we received from our buyers before the lockdown and the number of orders dwindled after we resumed production in May. Overall, there is a 50 per cent reduction in the sales when compared to last year," N Kartheeswaran, Partner, Sri Velavan Fireworks', told Deccan Herald.

Another manufacturer agreed with Kartheeswaran and explained the loss. "If I had sent 5,000 huge packets of fireworks, I am sending only around 2,500 to 2,700 packets this year. Dealers are not willing to stock up as there is a slump in demand too this year. Only when dealers buy we will be able to clear the stocks," the manufacturer explained.

With just a fortnight left for Deepavali, manufacturers are not too confident of the sales “picking up” as they feel people's “buying capacity” may have been reduced due to Covid-19.

“We lost huge sales that usually come from states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa during Ganesh Chaturthi as there was no public celebration. Orders for marriage and other local festivals also got cancelled. I do not think the Deepavali sales will increase in the coming weeks due to a variety of factors,” T Kannan, General Secretary of The Indian Fireworks' Manufacturers' Association (TIFMA), told DH.

Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) President P Ganesan also acknowledged the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had its effect on production and sales. "Factories could only produce 70 per cent of their capacities and out of the products that have been manufactured, 70 to 80 per cent have been sold. We have another two weeks of production and we hope to sell as much we can," he said.

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