New Delhi: Green crackers with 30 per cent less emissions will now be available in the market, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan announced on Saturday ahead of Diwali, noting that the step will take care of people's sentiments and address concerns on pollution.
Addressing an event by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where the crackers prepared by its labs were displayed, the Science and Technology Minister said they have been introduced to deal with the menace of pollution and would help the fireworks industry which was facing closure after the Supreme Court in 2018 banned conventional firecrackers that have high emission levels and allowed only those that conform to permissible smoke and noise levels.
"I am happy to announce that we have green crackers with reduced emission by minimum 30 per cent. These are environmental friendly. We had appealed to our scientists to come up with an alternative to the polluting fire crackers so that people's sentiment are taken care of without harming the environment," the minister said.
The scientists informed that buyers should lookout for a green logo as well as a Quick Response (QR) coding system, which have been developed for differentiation of green crackers from conventional crackers.
About 530 emissions testing certificates have been issued to fireworks manufactures for new and improved formulations meeting the stipulated guidelines of green crackers, the minister said.
Nearly 165 fireworks manufactures have been roped in and around 65 more manufacturers are in the process of coming on board to manufacture green crackers.
In 2018, just before Diwali, the Supreme Court had banned conventional firecrackers and ruled that only green crackers with reduced emission will be allowed to be manufactured and sold in the country in order to control the pollution level. It also fixed a two-hour window for bursting of crackers.
While activists and many others had welcomed the order, traders and a section of people had criticised the curbs. However, most manufactures and sellers were left clueless at that time and hardly any green crackers were available in the market. Despite the apex court order, there were reports of violation from many areas on Diwali.
Vardhan, who is also the Health minister, said on Saturday that due to the ban on fire crackers imposed by the Supreme Court, there was a threat of imminent closure of the entire fireworks industry.
However, "science has once again come to the rescue of the common man and millions of jobs have been saved due to the interventions made by our scientists", he said.
"Millions of homes which are dependent on sale and manufacture of fireworks will also rejoice this festival, thanks to our scientists," said the minister of science and technology and earth sciences.
Showcasing the crackers, the minister and scientists from CSIR said they are available in the market at lesser cost due to the changed composition.
The minister said CSIR labs have been successful in developing various environment-friendly fireworks such as sound emitting crackers, flowerpots, pencils, chakkar and sparklers.
"The green crackers will be available at a cheaper price. It will not be more than the existing ones. The composition of the chemicals has changed which has reduced their cost," said Sadhana Rayalu, chief scientist and head of environmental materials divison, CSIR-NEERI.
The scientists, however, did not reveal the exact price of the new crackers.
During the event, the minister also highlighted that the emission testing facilities for the new fire crackers have been set up at CSIR-NEERI as well as their approved National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration (NABL) facilities whose list is available on CSIR NEERI website.
Further, a Raw Materials Compositional Analysis (RACE) facility has been launched in Sivakasi to facilitate manufacturers for testing their raw materials and chemicals.
The apex court's 2018 order -- permitting "green" firecrackers and fixing a two-hour time period for bursting them on Diwali and other festivals -- came on a plea seeking a ban on the manufacture and sale of firecrackers across the country to curb air pollution.
The top court was of the view that there is need to take into account all aspects, including the fundamental right of livelihood of firecracker manufacturers and the right to health of over 1.3 billion people in the country.
On October 9, 2017, the top court had temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali in Delhi-NCR region. Later, the court refused to relax its order while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on October 19, 2017.
The festive season has commenced this year and Diwali will be celebrated on October 27.