The day temperature in Sivakasi is not known to go below 25 degree Celsius. Similarly, it does not climb beyond 40 degree Celsius. This is a major facilitator in drying the crackers and in manufacturing noisy crackers. The town also boasts of a number of hard working and skilled labourers. The owners of the cracker units said that without exception, all workers are extremely skilled and take pride in completing the task with admirable precision.
‘They are all highly motivated. The sole intention of every worker is to become the owner of a firecracker unit. It does not matter that the risk of accidents is high or that they may not have sales round the year. It is the passion for the job that they have developed. In fact, many of them take pride in what they do. Therefore, they all work very hard to understand every aspect of the industry,” said an insider.
The third factor is the fact that all the owners of the cracker units had once been labourers, who have risen to becoming owners of manufacturing units. Therefore, the proprietors, do not hesitate to assist the employees in their work. There is hardly any owner-worker divide. Also, the owners have a better understanding of the risks and challenges the workers face, better than anyone else in the industry. “Therefore, the workers are treated extremely well,” said another owner.
Crackers with enhanced security features rolled out for children
For years, Sivakasi’s units were known to produce fancy firecrackers, with ear-splitting volume, in the hope of attracting the youth. However, this year they have begun to concentrate more on crackers for children, with increased security features.
In recent years, the enthusiasm in bursting crackers during Deepavali has decreased considerably among the people, mainly because of growing awareness on its environmental impact and due to changes in people’s lifestyle.
Earlier, cracker units, produced crackers with higher decibel levels aimed at the youngsters and later turned their attention to those which set off in a fanciful manner, causing onlookers to scream in sheer joy as the firecrackers exploded in the air. However, this year, new varieties of crackers have been introduced by the cracker units aimed mainly for children, with enhanced safety features.
Speaking to DT Next, Sasi, owner of Vanitha Fireworks, said that until 10 years ago, most children had a craze only for flower pots, sparklers and chakkras. Today, they expect more varieties and to cater to the market demand, they have begun to manufacture new varieties of crackers.
These include Titu, Daindas, Agi, etc., which are flower pots, but they do not resemble a standard flower pot. Additionally, crackers like Popper, Rootto, Super Stick are some pencil and sparkler varieties which are completely safe for children. The sparks from the sparklers will not be hot and will not harm the children, even if children touch them accidentally. Some of the other attractions this year include the Photoflash cracker, which produces a light similar to a camera flash, upon exploding. I-spun is a variety of cracker that will make the sound of a top while spinning on the ground, and when airborne, it will spin in the air.
Another safe product is Yoo Hoo, a special flower pot, which will explode after flying five feet in the air. It will also emit sparks, which are completely safe and will not harm the children bursting them, said Sasi.
Apex court impact on the industry
The Supreme Court (SC) had recently restrained the sale of firecrackers till October 31 in New Delhi-NCR. The SC’s direction in New Delhi has had far reaching effects, and its repercussions are being felt in Sivakasi.
According to industrial experts, North India is the major market for Sivakasi’s manufacturers and they constitute more than 80 per cent of the entire market. Although larger units focus evenly on all the regions, New Delhi remains their prime target.
In fact, many of the big players in Sivakasi easily account for over 10 per cent of Delhi’s demand for various firecrackers. For such units that enjoyed a monopoly in New Delhi and who had failed to diversify their business, the apex court’ s ban is a huge blow. Close to Rs 500 crore worth of business has been affected this year because of the SC direction, say industry experts.
Additionally, many of the retail traders had been steadily stocking their products, in order to sell them during the peak season. A huge loss is staring in the face of such traders and many of them stand to suffer a huge capital loss as well. Most of the traders avail of loans from private financiers or through banks in order to make the investment.