“Many schools across urban India have taken an oath from their students during the morning assembly prayers to discourage children from bursting crackers and enjoy a safe and an eco-friendly Diwali thereby doing their bit to save the planet,” according to a survey conducted by The ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF) from October 1-30.
The ASDF team carried on the survey in around 150 schools in cities like Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Patna, Pune and Surat. Almost all the school authorities admitted of educating their pupil about the ill effect of bursting crackers on both health and the environment, noted the survey.
“Though, there has been a general rise of 10-15 per cent in crackers’ prices, the decline in their demand is being majorly attributed to growing awareness amid children who have vowed to abide by their oaths to shun firecrackers,” said D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the chamber’s survey.
The survey team also interacted with about 200 traders, retail and wholesale firecrackers’ dealers to gauge the market conditions. Majority of wholesale and retail merchants blamed steep rise in crackers’ cost as the primary reason for lukewarm sales.
“Poor supply due to strict enforcement of fire safety regulations, input price inflation, unabated rise in fuel prices leading to escalating transport charges, labour shortage, rising wages and other such multiple factors are hurting the growth prospects of firecracker industry,” said Rawat.
According to the survey, increased environmental awareness, embargo implemented by the local administration on bursting crackers and strict licensing norms have impacted the sales over the past few years. Also, illegal cheap imports from China have further reduced the profit margins of the industry.
Considering that downfall of firecracker sales has been going on for past few years now, many shopkeepers even said they have piles left from last year and thus haven’t really ordered more crackers this year, highlighted the ASSOCHAM survey.
The domestic firecracker industry which as per estimates is worth over Rs 1,500 crore has been constantly grappling for a few years now. The town of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu is accounts for over 90 per cent of fireworks production in India with over 9,000 units in both organized and unorganized sectors.