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News |  13 Jun 2022 17:58 |  By RnMTeam

Supreme Court of India has been misled on the Permissible Exposure Limit of Barium used in the manufacture of fireworks : S Srinivasan

MUMBAI : Fireworks Manufacturers feel that the Fireworks Industry has been a soft target for environmentalists and the authorities in the name of controlling pollution. It all started with the Delhi smog in recent years. The onset of the smog is prominent during Diwali days. While deciding on a Civil Writ Petition No.728 of 2015 in the matter of Arjun Gopal & Others Versus Union of India, the Supreme Court opined that though fireworks are not the major cause of deterioration of air quality in Delhi and NCR, they are certainly an aggravator of the situation. On 23/10/2018 the Supreme Court banned the use of fireworks other than the Green Crackers – which are said to reduce the emission by 30%. The manufacture of joint crackers and the use of Barium, a key chemical in the manufacture of several fireworks items and sparklers were also banned. The usage of fireworks was allowed only for 2 hours on the day of festivals such as Diwali and New Year.

A leading fireworks expert S.Srinivasan, Said “The Supreme Court of India has been misled on the Permissible Exposure Limit of Barium used in the manufacture of fireworks. In a workplace environment where Barium is used all through the shift for 8 hours or 10 hours, – as in a Barium calcination factory, an industrial unit using where Barium laden welding rod is used, a tyre factory there’s continuous emission/discharge of effluents and concentration of Barium in the air and workers are continuously exposed to Barium, the permissible exposure is determined across the globe as 0.5 milligram/cubic meter in other words 500 microgram/cubic meter. For 24-hour exposure, the value was reduced by 125 times and wrongly fixed at 4 micrograms per cubic meter. When the Court restricted the usage of fireworks only to 2 hours, the error became widened”.

The Supreme Court alleged that ‘thousands, even a lakh of crackers on one string going off at night; and several such strings going off in the neighborhood’ caused accumulation of waste and pollution. One of the Manufacturers and a core committee member of SIFMA (Sivakasi Fireworks Manufacturers Association) Mr. A Murali, “The fact is that neither anyone manufactures such a length of crackers containing one lakh crackers anywhere in India nor is it permitted in Explosives Rules. However, when the ban on the manufacture of joint crackers was imposed, even the lowest denomination of joint crackers, a small 28 wala chorsa or tukkada crackers manufactured by 80% of the fireworks manufacturers got eliminated. These 28 wala joint crackers are poor men’s crackers, which have almost zero pollutants. They are used for temple festivals, small functions, and even used by farmers to scare away the birds and animals in agricultural fields. Banning them in the name of pollution is a total injustice to them”.

Sivakasi Fireworks manufacturer, Mr. S Ravi said., “Manufacturing has turned into the paradise of bootleggers; workers were found migrating to illegal manufacturers for want of jobs jeopardizing their safety. Several cases of workers unable to get medical treatment from the State-owned ESIC for want of sufficient contribution or regular attendance have also emerged”.

Sivakasi Fireworks Manufacturers Association President A Asaithambi said, “Fireworks emission standards are to be fixed by involving the manufacturers. The ban on the use of barium has to be lifted. The manufacture of joint crackers is already allowed as per Explosives Rules, 2008 in such a way that the noise of individual crackers is not above the Noise Pollution norm that is 125 dB(AI) or 145 dB (C) pk at 4 meters distance from the point of bursting. This condition has to be restored. As for Delhi or any other place where Ambient Air Quality Index is above 200, the current two-hour stipulation for bursting crackers itself will help achieve the 30% reduction in emission from fireworks. For the rest of the country, the two-hour restriction has to be relaxed”.

Sivakasi Sparklers Manufacturer’s Association Advisor and core committee member, PCG Asok Kumar said, “Sparklers are the most innocuous product amongst fireworks. So are the pencils, torches, chakkar, and flowerpots. Even these items could not be manufactured because of the ban on Barium. It’s a total injustice for stakeholders of the industry. We want the government to interfere and save this industry. We pray to the Honourable Supreme Court to provide justice to this industry.