CHENNAI: The upcoming Diwali festival is the only ray of hope for the struggling cracker manufacturing units to be back in business. With godowns full with unsold crackers, paucity of buyers and production down by 50 per cent, cracker makers in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, are worried about their future.
Over 1,000 manufacturing units located in Sivakasi, which accounts for over 95 per cent of the cracker production in the country and employs over three lakh workers, have been hit hard as the peak wedding season was completely washed out due to Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown.
Uncertainty prevails even over Diwali celebration now. But, manufacturers are hopeful that soon the different state governments will call for applications for temporary licence from shopkeepers wanting to sell firecrackers, which will boost their business.
“Many small units are staring at closure while big manufacturers are operating at only 50 per cent capacity as there is no demand. We have requested the Centre to announce that Diwali celebrations will happen this year. We are hopeful that the state governments will take note of our plea and call for applications for temporary license for selling fire crackers,” said P Ganesan, president of Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA).
The demand from retailers will prompt wholesalers to purchase crackers from the units. Ganesan added that the units are also struggling to pay their workers as factories were fully closed during lockdown.
The Sivakasi cracker industry does business worth Rs 3,000 crore annually. “Usually, we start getting advance orders at least four months before Diwali but this year there are no buyers.
Major orders come from North India and we are eagerly waiting for the orders as it will help us to clear the huge stocks of finished goods piled up in the store houses. Our factories are also loaded with raw materials,” said Rajendra Raja, vice-president, Indian Fireworks Manufacturers’ Association.