The Supreme Court exploded the biggest bomb this Diwali by banning the sale of crackers in New Delhi till November 1. Following this order other states are also mulling doing the same.
Keeping in mind the yearly explosion in pollution levels at the time of Diwali in the country's capital, the SC took this decision. Hoping that this year it will be different. But in saving the lungs of thousands, the ban has the potential to take away the livelihood of 5 lakh workers. And not just loss of livelihood but this is definitely going to reflect in the profit books of the companies.
The Supreme Court’s ban has created panic among the industry and if that were not enough, the rain gods have been staying too late and blessing the earth with abundant water. The flipside, if the rain gods play party pooper this week then Diwali celebrations will be down by several notches, leaving fireworks traders nursing losses amounting to crores.
In the north, the traders have already started protesting the ban, saying how they have been given a raw deal. Some of their arguments border on how alcohol not being banned but crackers making it to the list.
While we may be rightly outraged at the labour intensive dangerous job that fireworks making is, the workers in the Sivakasi factory are a worried lot. Their concern is not for their health but for the hungry mouths they have to feed at home. Their arguments being on the lines that for one day of pollution they shut firecrackers sales why doesn’t the court consider removing the vehicular pollution?
Sivakasi villagers may paint a picture of ill health and working under inhumane conditions for less pay but now their biggest worry is finding a new means of employment. Their livelihood has been linked to these fireworks making for years. Most don’t know anything beyond this. Not to forget even the paper wrapper making industry will be directly affected by this slowdown.
The SC has banned the sale of fireworks till November 1 way after Diwali (boom time for these factories) ends, crippling sales effectively. Though one must keep in mind the business is not seasonal but works all-year round. More so, stock which is leftover from the previous year needs to be sold first to get in new lots. In anticipation of the festive demand, sellers stock up on fireworks but this time it would seem the it will not see the outside of the godowns and loss is imminent.
Most of the orders come from North India - Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra and if these places say no to their handiwork, then who will bear the losses? GST has already put fireworks in the highest taxable bracket at 28 per cent, SC has banned fireworks, sales have dropped drastically – a bleak future and a black diwali ahead for Sivakasi.