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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Celebrate Deepavali with crackers - only Indian- say no to illegally imported ones

Deepavali, the festival of Lights enthuses everyone and is celebrated all over the Country with great enthusiasm.  People wear new clothes, eat and share  lot of sweets and celebrate with crackers.  The very thought of Deepavali celebrations pervades happiness and would enthuse us ~ the fervour felt right from our childhood.   It is a grand festival that would provide everything in abundance – sweets, visiting and sharing with friends and relatives, watching movies and more….

Fire crackers – the small explosives designed to produce noise and the eye-capturing fireworks – both on the ground and on the air have captivated people for centuries now.   Every year you get to hear newer names –  new introductions – last year saw  fancy names like ‘super sonica; Chandni ka chand; soneri rath;soneri barsath; floral fantasy…For ages the crowded Parrys would get more congested as Bunder Street, Badrian Street, Anderson Street all will look similar – only shops selling crackers.  All roads would lead to shops selling fire crackers of various manufacturers including – Standard, National, Sri Kaliswari, Ayyan ….. – you can see hundreds of shops -  still all do roaring business. For the past couple of years, it has been island grounds citing safety reasons :
file photo of Indian brand Aiyyan pattasu

Sivakasi, in Virudhunagar District of Tamilnadu is the undisputed capital of India’s firecracker industry with about 8,000 factories, big and small, producing 90 percent of the total fireworks output.  Hailed as ‘kutti Japan’ – this place is also known for litho printing press and calendars.   In May 2014, had posted on the Madurai Bench of Madras high court chiding top central agencies, including the Customs department, for failing to prevent illegal import of Chinese firecrackers into the country . At a special sitting of the bench,  the customs department (Tuticorin) informed the court that it was not aware of communications sent by the chief controller of explosives (CCE) seeking action against illegal import of Chinese firecrackers to save the Sivakasi-based fireworks industry. The Court was informed that Tuticorin Port had only one scanner which impeded checking hundreds of consignments being imported. 

The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday (25/9/14) directed the Centre to conduct raids nationwide and seize Chinese crackers that had been imported clandestinely owing to the “slackness” in vigil at ports, airports and border checkpoints and the “absence of coordination among government departments.”  Allowing a public interest litigation petition, a Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and S. Vaidyanathan said: “The customs authorities and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) are directed to take all possible steps to check, detect and prevent the illegal imports causing danger to our economy and the safety of the children.”

Shocked at the submission of Tuticorin port officials that only 10 per cent of the imported consignments were examined, the judges said: “As the prohibited crackers are able to creep into India without authorisation, there is every likelihood of even dangerous explosive materials coming in, endangering lives, property and, most importantly, the security of the nation. “Every officer in the entry points should be duty-conscious and vigilant to prevent smuggling of prohibited items. They should discharge their duties in accordance with law and with patriotism.” They observed that it was also obligatory on the part of the Centre to allocate more funds for providing the infrastructure required for examining all containers.

Listing the names of companies which had advertised themselves to be cracker importers, the Bench said: “It would only show that there is no supervision or collective action by the authorities. The Central agencies should independently take note of these advertisements. It is not necessary that only based on specific complaints have cases to be registered.”  The court also took note of a report that appeared in The Guardian on February 1, 2013 about the explosion of a truck carrying Chinese fireworks on an express bridge in Central China and said: “Our country is facing threats from extremists and fundamentalists … We should not give any room for dangerous things to happen.”

The Judges also ordered CBI to investigate the seizure of Chinese crackers. While the Govt. agencies would do enforcement of law – responsible citizens should desist buying such illegally imported crackers. The Nation’s security is uppermost …….. let us celebrate Deepavali grandly – buy and burst crackers – buy only Indian crackers – only the ones legally made.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Sept. 2014.

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