Amid jitters in the Rs 20,000-crore pan-India firecracker market in the wake of a Supreme Court order imposing stringent rules on their sale and use, its manufacturers and sellers in the country are witnessing a 40 per cent slump in sales during the ongoing festive season, officials said on Tuesday.
They also sought a comprehensive policy on firecrackers and a guideline for manufacturing less polluting crackers from the centre.
"The all-India market for firecrackers is pegged at Rs 20,000 crore annually. This year, sales across states so far are down by at least 40 per cent as compared to last year. We honour the Supreme Court verdict. It is good for environment but the market has become chaotic after the ruling," Praveen Khandelwal, National Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders, told IANS.
Elaborating further, he said the firecracker business is seasonal in nature, with Diwali sales contributing about 80 per cent of entire annual sales.
"Considering this seasonality, it wreaks havoc for the industry as livelihood of lakhs of people is associated with the industry," he said.
He said firecracker manufacturers and traders have urged the top court for relaxations for this year only but no response has been received.
The top court had refused to prohibit bursting of crackers on Diwali and permitted their sale and use with reduced emission and decibel levels for two hours -- from 8 pm to 10 pm. The court also allowed southern states including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to choose the time for bursting firecrackers during Diwali subject to the limit of two hours.
Echoing Mr Khandelwal, Sara Bangla Atasbazi Unnayan Samity's Chairman Babla Roy told IANS: "There has been a two-hour window for bursting of firecrackers. With these stringent rules, our sales in terms of volumes have been impacted significantly. Volumes are down by 40 per cent on an average, as customers are buying less compared to volumes they would have bought without any time limit on bursting those."
The court also clarified that direction on bursting of green crackers was limited to Delhi and its adjoining areas and was not applicable to the rest of country.
"About Rs 500 crore of stocks in Delhi-NCR region become redundant with the apex court's green crackers ruling. Neither we are able to transport it to other states within such a short span of time, nor we are able to come up with green products as no definition of green crackers is available with us," Mr Khandelwal said.
"Firecracker manufacturers and sellers urged the Central government to come up with a comprehensive policy on firecrackers providing a proper guideline to make green crackers," he added.
Speaking on the Chinese imports of firecrackers, Mr Khandelwal said domestic manufacturers have been putting a pan-India campaign against the import from the neighbour, which result in a check in the market but still the size of imported Chinese firecrackers is to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore this year.