Need to Know About Green Crackers Celebrate Pollution-Free Diwali

It is difficult to tell a green cracker from a conventional cracker from the outer wrapper
What are green crackers?
The CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR NEERI) defines green crackers as fireworks/ firecrackers made with a reduced shell size, without use of ash, low usage of raw materials and/or additives such as dust suppressants to reduce emissions with specific reference to particulate matter (PM). Green crackers also produce nearly 30 per cent lesser noise when compared with conventional crackers.
Identifying green crackers
One has to look for the CSIR NEERI logo on the fireworks packaging.
What is the difference between conventional firecrackers and green crackers?
Green crackers have low thermite content, and minimum usage of aluminium. They don’t contain barium compounds which are used to get the green colour. Barium nitrate is a metal oxide that adds to air and noise pollution. Green crackers, instead, use potassium nitrate as an oxidant. Conventional crackers use black powder, oxidising agents like nitrates, chlorates and perchlorates; reducing agents like sulphur and charcoal, and colouring agents like barium and binders like dextrin (starch).
Why have they been introduced?
In a landmark judgment on October 23, 2018, just before Diwali, the Supreme Court banned the use of fireworks other than green crackers. This was on writ petitions filed by a few residents of Delhi in September 2015, seeking a ban on the sale of firecrackers as they were concerned about increasing air pollution.  The manufacture of joint crackers and the use of barium, a key chemical in the manufacture of several fireworks and sparklers, was banned. The court reconfirmed the ban on barium in 2021 .
Are green crackers available in the market?
Manufacturers in Sivakasi, the capital of firecrackers in India, claim they only produce green crackers. Retailers also claim they sell only green crackers. However, it is difficult for the layman to identify a i conventional cracker and a green cracker from the wrapper.
How has been the enforcement of this order?
The state pollution control boards are responsible for ensuring that manufacturers produce only green crackers, and that retail shops sell only green crackers. However, in the first two years after the court order was passed, there was no clarity on green crackers, and the subsequent two years were lost due to the pandemic. This year has been subdued as manufacturers have substantially reduced production awaiting a favourable ruling from the court.
How has all this impacted manufacturers?
Before the ban, the small town of Sivakasi manufactured fireworks valued at over ¹ 6,000 crore. Over 1,000 units employed nearly three lakh direct employees, and another five lakh indirect employees, mainly with thousands of vendors. In 2019, the industry lost considerably due to the confusion over ‘green’ crackers. The pandemic aggravated the situation for the industry for the next two years. This year, production has dropped by 50 per cent over the last year.

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