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Opposing a petition by three toddlers seeking a complete ban on crackers to curb pollution, a leading cracker manufacturer in the Rs 10 billion industry in Sivakasi has moved the Supreme Court saying banning fireworks during Diwali would be against Hindu belief and mythology. Close to a week after the Supreme Court on Friday said it will actively consider limiting the firework bursting time on Diwali to a period of five hours between 5 pm and 10 pm, a cracker manufacturer has moved the court against the ban. Two six-month-olds Arjun Gopal and Aarav Bhandari and 14-month-old Zoya Rao Bhasin, wrote in their petition that "Our lungs have not yet fully developed and we cannot take further pollution through bursting of crackers."
Photon Journal of Pediatrics confirmed the reports.
The sense of panic among cracker manufacturers was real as a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had said the court would seriously consider limiting cracker bursting time on Diwali even as the toddlers, through their advocate fathers, sought a complete ban on crackers. "Sivakasi town is the nodal centre for firecrackers manufacturing at national level. Approximately, 80% to 90% of firecrackers produced in India are from Sivakasi. Combined estimated turnover of the firecrackers industry in Sivakasi would be around Rs 10 billion and, therefore, this industry does contribute substantially towards the revenue of the state and the Union governments in terms of sales, excise and customs duties,".
They had said pollution in different cities was at alarming levels and mindless bursting of crackers would turn it poisonous and make children and the elderly suffer. As a first step, they sought a ban on fireworks in Delhi as it was one of the most polluted cities in the world.
Leading cracker manufacturer Kaliswari Fireworks, which produces 'Cock' brand of crackers, told the court that Diwali was the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It said fireworks illuminating the sky and lamps lighting up homes "are an expression of obeisance to the heaven for attainment of health, wealth and knowledge".
"According to Hindu belief, the sound of fireworks and crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth and making gods aware of their plentiful state. Therefore, a ban on fireworks and crackers would be against Hindu belief and mythology," the manufacturer said without explaining the ill-effects of loud noise of crackers on children, patients and the elderly, not to mention the pollution caused by them.
After playing the religious card, the manufacturer through counsel Rohini Musa said a ban would impact the livelihood of thousands of workers engaged in the industry. "There are more than 7,000 employees working in the applicant company and its sister concerns. Like the applicant company, there are more than 500 units of fireworks in Sivakasi, each of them employing a minimum of 100 to a maximum of 10,000 workers," it said.
Connected to the fireworks industry were printing and packaging units, which also provided largescale employment, the company said and argued that any ban on crackers would play havoc with the livelihood of poor workers.
It said the industry was facing unethical competition from illegally imported, cheap and heavily polluting Chinese crackers and submitted that if their business was further curtailed through court orders, it would spell doom for manufacturers and workers.
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