Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Hindustan Times

CSIR’s green firecrackers unlikely this Diwali

Safety approvals for CSIR's green firecrackers from the authorities are awaited

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has banned all firecrackers except green firecrackers, however it is unlikely that the eco-friendly ones will be available in time for Diwali celebrations next week. These are awaiting safety approvals from the authorities.

According to scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the ‘green firecrackers’ developed by their research teams at various laboratories across the country have been sent to the Petroleum and Safety Organization (PESO) for necessary approvals.

These newly developed firecrackers have been named Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL) and Safe Thermite Cracker (STAR).

Apart from reducing particulate matter emissions by 25-30%, the formulations in green firecrackers have replaced the toxic components with less-harmful alternatives -- barium with zeolites and aluminium with magnesium. The quantity of potassium nitrate and carbon has also been reduced. “These reduced emission firecrackers have the unique property of releasing water vapour and air as dust-suppressant," said Sadhna Rayalu, senior scientist at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

Rakesh Sharma, Director, CSIR-NEERI, said “the modified chemical formulations have already been shared with PESO for testing and analysis from the point of view of safety and stability of these firecrackers. It is crucial before licences are granted to manufacturers who are interested in the technology."

But according to a CSIR note, the process of launching these eco-friendly firecrackers in the market could take two months, subject to approval from PESO’s Fireworks Research and Development Centre (FRDC) at Sivasaki.

“Commitments of when the manufacturing can start cannot be stated by CSIR at this point, as it is more linked with manufacturers," the statement quoting the CSIR scientists said. With Diwali due next week, it is unlikely that these firecrackers will reach market.

In its order last Monday, the Supreme Court had ruled out any blanket ban on firecrackers in Delhi/NCR but permitted only the sale and manufacture of ‘green crackers". The court had directed PESO to ensure that fireworks with permitted chemicals and whose sound levels were within the prescribed limits be allowed for sale in markets during Diwali and all other festive occasions in Delhi/NCR.

PESO “would test and check for the presence of banned chemicals like lithium/arsenic/antimony/lead/mercury and ensure suspension of the licenses of manufacturers of such fireworks items. PESO will ensure that only those crackers whose decibel (sound) level are within the limits are allowed in the market and will ensure to take action by suspending the licenses of the manufacturers on such violations and disposal of such lots," the court had said.

On Monday, union minister for science and technology, Harsh Vardhan, who is also the minister for environment, said CSIR has achieved its goal by preparing eco-friendly alternatives within a few months.

“The scientists have done their job, prepared the chemical formulations and even demonstrated them. These alternatives will not only address pollution concerns, but protect the economy and livelihood of people involved in the fireworks industry. We have urged manufacturers to come forward and accept the new technology, but CSIR, in itself cannot grant licences," he said.

With an annual turnover of 6,000 crore and a growth rate of about 10%, the fireworks industry provides employment opportunities to over 5 lakh families.

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