Firecracker vendor
Domestic sales dip despite ban on Made in China firecrackers Pictured: An Indian vendor sells fireworks at his stall in a market place during the DiwaliReuters

Despite a ban on import and sale of Chinese crackers in India, local firecracker manufacturers still faced a decline in sales by 20 percent leading to loss of nearly 30,000 jobs, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said on Friday. 

According to a survey conducted by Assocham in 10 major cities, campaigns run against the use of crackers by schools and resident welfare associations (RWAs) and others have lead to lower sales.

"It is not just Chinese firecrackers but multiple factors like growing environmental awareness, rising cost of living, growing tendency amid people to save their hard-earned money rather than spoiling it on burning crackers, paucity of time, traffic congestion during festive period and others have together dented this business over the years," said firecracker traders who were part of the survey.

Assocham had interacted with firecracker wholesalers, retailers and traders in 10 cities —Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Mumbai. 

Traders experienced almost 20 percent decline year-on-year in the last five years. They now get almost half the amount of firecrackers due to poor sales.

"Banning Chinese firecrackers was a welcome move aimed at strengthening the domestic industry. However, growing criticism of bursting firecrackers and all the negative publicity together with rising air and noise pollution have eventually faded the growth of firecracker industry across India," said DS Rawat, Secretary-General at Assocham.

Almost hundred manufacturers in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu — which has been a Rs. 2,500 crore hub for Diwali firecrackers — have shut production after campaigns against firecrackers and increase in the sale of Chinese crackers. Also, overall inflation has contributed to the loss in sales. 

Campaigns against crackers

Not just schools but even celebs and through media there have been calls against using firecrackers. Concerns over rising air pollution levels, discomfort to pets, and other kinds of pollution have been cited as reasons against the use of crackers in India, where five years ago Diwali celebrations were not complete without loud noises and the smell of gunpowder in the air.