Bengaluru: The Supreme Court ordered recently that sale and use of only green crackers (low emission crackers) will be allowed for the Diwali celebrations — that too only between 8 PM and 10 PM. While this could be a much-needed relief from polluted air, firecracker manufacturers and distributors, who have been in the business for 20-30 years, are crying foul.

The Supreme Court verdict came less than 15 days before Diwali — known as the festival of lights and sound — not sparing the cottage industry, largely employing abject poor labourers, time to diversify and make up for its humongous losses. The manufacturers are stuck with lakhs and crores-worth of crackers that are now illegal.

As many as 1,700 units along with ancillary units in Tamil Nadu's Sivakasi (home to firecrackers for decades) alone produce Rs 10,000 crore-worth crackers. However, due to a pending judgment, the units have produced only 60% of the crackers. But even they cannot be sold now, due to the verdict from the court.

"The decision has had a great impact on us. It is silly that this Deepavali is going to be cracker-less because the formula to green crackers is not available yet in India and other crackers are not allowed to be sold," said Punidhan, a distributor of Saravana crackers in Sivakasi.

Punidhan added that 20,000 families depend on the sale of crackers for their daily bread. But they are now in the lurch because of the latest directions.

A distributor like him alone has Rs 20 lakh-worth crackers stored, currently. "I don't know what to do with these crackers. I can't sell it back to the manufacturing units, because they also do not know what to do with it. There are people, who have already bought and stocked crores-worth crackers for sale. It is a huge loss to all of us," he said.

"What is a Deepavali without lights and sound? The formula of green crackers is not available in India yet. Will there be no crackers during the festival until the production of the same starts?" Punidhan asked.

A representative of, a forum that organises the online sale of crackers is also in jeopardy. The Supreme Court has banned the online sale of crackers. Following the order, all online sales have stopped, told the representative, who did not want to be named.

What are green crackers?

Green crackers have lesser quantities of harmful components like barium, aluminium, chromium used to get different colours. Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has asked manufacturers to avoid using antimony lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead while preparing crackers. Instead, use charcoal as per specifications, stated PESO.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research labs, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute, Pilani, have come together and prepared a formula. Crackers prepared with this new formula are said to produce water molecules after the reaction and they will also act as a dust suppressant.

Currently, the new formula is sent to PESO for approval and has not hit the markets yet.

But until then, Sivakasi people are wondering how to keep the home fires burning.