New Delhi: The market share of Chinese fireworks in the country has doubled to 40 per cent this year from a year ago. This has caused the local industry to shrink by 25 per cent.
Although the estimated value of Chinese fireworks imports has remained stagnant at Rs 1,500 crore for the last two years, the carryover stock has resulted in the surge in market share.
According to the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TNFAMA), customs officials who intercept illegal cargo send it to laboratories for testing, which take six months to submit their analysis. It is within this period that the illegal importers pay the requisite fines and have a major part of the illegally imported crackers released. This makes its way into the market in a later year.
As a result, the TNFAMA is expecting domestic sales from Sivakasi to drop to Rs 3,000 crore this year from last year’s Rs 4,000 crore. The TNFAMA represents companies in Sivakasi that account for 90 per cent of the fireworks industry in India. Industry executives, who pegged the retail fireworks market at Rs 10,000 crore, said Indian producers would contribute 60 per cent of the total sales and the rest would be made up by Chinese imports. Dealers selling locally made fireworks make a 100 per cent margin. “The drop in our sales is primarily on account of illegal Chinese imports that have surged in the past five years,” the association’s general secretary Mariappan said.
According to industry estimates, five years ago Chinese imports were non-existent. “Chinese fireworks have more variants, which make them popular among buyers. However, these varieties have dangerous chemicals that are banned in India. Thus the Indian fireworks industry does not manufacture them,” Mariappan added.
Besides, Chinese fireworks are 20-40 per cent cheaper on average. “While buying Chinese fireworks, people do not realise the amount of pollution being caused by their use,” said Babla Roy, chairman of the West Bengal Firecrackers Development Association. According to V Ramamoorthy of Jubilant Crackers, Chinese fireworks are primarily sold in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi, where warehouses for such imports are located.
An industry executive alleged ports in Maharashtra and Gujarat were the primary entry points for illegal Chinese crackers into India.
The TNFAMA has urged Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to make public the volume of illegal Chinese fireworks seized from ports and the action taken to destroy them.
While the illegal Chinese trade has affected the livelihood of over 500,000 households in Sivakasi and 4,00,000 small factories in West Bengal, the industry is optimistic that this year, the uptake of Chinese products will be low.
“China had supported Pakistan during the recent tension with India and people now prefer buying local fireworks,” Mariappan concluded.