‘India must ask Sri Lanka for transshipment facilities for firecrackers’

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Chennai, Nov 24 (IANS) The Centre should convince Sri Lanka to provide transshipment facilities to Indian firecracker exporters so that the Indian products can light up foreign skies, said an official of The Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers’ Association (Tanfama).

“India is the second largest firecracker manufacturer in the world, next to China.

“However its share in the global trade is nothing as transshipment facilities once extended by Sri Lanka has been stopped,” K. Mariapan, Secretary, Tanfama told IANS.

“We have to go for transshipment as big/mother vessels do not call on Tuticorin Port due to its low depth,” Mariappan added.

He said the Indian industry used to export around five per cent of its production to countries like South Africa.

If the Indian ports have deep depth then mother vessels can come in and exports can be made directly out of India, he added.

“Till such time, the Indian government should try to convince Sri Lanka to provide transshipment facilities for our cargo,” Mariappan said.

With legal uncertainty as to their existence looming over their heads as the apex court is hearing a case to impose a nationwide ban on sale of firecrackers, the industry is trying to look out for other survival measures.

The firecrackers industry in Sivakasi provides livelihood for around eight lakh people directly and indirectly, he said.

Mariappan also said the Indian government should prescribe the ISO firecracker noise standards for the industry so that the sector can follow the international standards.

Queried about catering to defence needs the industry officials said the defence sector requirements and standards are different and only one unit is catering to the defence needs.

Referring to the apex court order banning sale of firecrackers in the national capital region (NCR) this year ahead of Diwali, Mariappan said there should be legal protection to the fireworks industry so that the non-governmental organisations (NGO) do not interfere with the centuries-old Hindu religious and cultural traditions.

“The central government can relax the Ambient Air Quality Standards prescribed under the environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 during festival times,” Mariappan said.

“If our products are the main reason for smog in Delhi then Sivakasi by now should be a ghost city. The units here daily burst around Rs 100,000 worth of crackers for testing purposes.

“But people here breathe good air, there are different kinds of birds, including peacocks and butterflies,” G. Abiruben, Managing Director, Ayyan Fire Works told IANS.

“The firecracker industry in Sivakasi is slowly sinking and younger generation are moving out.

“The last three or four years were very difficult for the sector. Some firecracker units have been sold,” S. Maheswaran, Director, Standard Fire Works told IANS.

“The industry is dipping production by 20 per cent annually,” he added.

–IANS

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