By Mukund N S, Founder Citizen Action Forum.
The earliest record of display of firecrackers in India was made by Abdul Razzak, the ambassador of the Timurid Sultan…
The earliest record of display of firecrackers in India was made by Abdul Razzak, the ambassador of the Timurid Sultan Shahrukh to the court of the Vijaynagar king Devaraya in 1443.
Fireworks and pyrotechnic shows existed in many medieval Indian kingdoms during special ocassions. Historical data indicates that in the sixteenth century firecrackers were available in Gujarath. By eighteenth century firework shows in grand scale Deepavali entertainment was common. From Gujarath it spread to Poona.
By the late Peshwa period, when the mughal empire was breathing it’s last, we find many references to Deepavali with accompanying fireworks. It was also apparent that they were quite expensive and hence commissioned by the kings for personal and citizens’ entertainment.
The first modern fireworks factory was set up in Kolkata in the nineteenth century. After independence Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu emerged as India’s firecrackers hub and benifitted hugely from import restrictions.
There are at present 1076 registered firecracker units in Sivajasi giving direct and indirect employment to nearly 8 lakh persons with the total turnover in excess of Rs.3000 crores. Sivakasi accounts for 80% of the total production in India. Due to the recent ban on firecrackers these units have suffered a loss of 800 crores.
The government has not totally banned the manufacture and sale of firecrackers. It has only banned the manufacture and sale of firecrackers of high emission and sound level. It allows the manufacture and sale of firecrackers whose emission is lower by 30% and the sound level is below 125 decibels. These are called as Green Crackers. This has to be certified by PESO – Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation. It has a center in Sivakasi.
Unfortunately due to delays in finalising the specifications only 24 units in North India and 6 units in Sivakasi have received the license.
I think both the Tamil Nadu government and the Central government have to take proactive steps to ensure the speedy grant of licences so that the twin objectives of reducing environmental pollution and saving lakhs of jobs are achieved. Also strict regulation is very important.
I have prepared this article based on various newspaper and magazine reports. The attempt is to get a holistic idea of the issue so that we can also as responsible citizens can contribute our mite in protecting our fragile environment.