Thiruvananthapuram: After the Puttingal temple fireworks tragedy that killed 111 people, the ailing local firecracker production at Nanniyodu and Poozhikkunnu has suffered a further setback due to persecution by authorities, say fireworks makers and licence-holders. It has been some time since the production of Olappadakkam, a traditional firecracker, because of the ‘varnapadakkam’ from Sivakasi. ‘Gundu’, another high-power firecracker was banned.
“Pottassium Chloride has been banned as per the explosive act. Policemen who raid local factories do not know anything and they seize the entire chemical stock and harass firecracker makers,” said G Subodhan, President of the Kerala Firework Licencees and Employers Association. As per norms, sulphur powder, aluminium alloys, ammonium nitrate or chloride can be used in firecrackers but cops seize even charcoal from firecracker makers.
“After each raid, makers have to go through the harrowing experience of getting raw materials back. In the process, they fail to meet the commitments made to vendors. The vendors who have cheap Sivakasi crackers available, flood the market with firecrackers made in the neighbouring state,” said G Prakashan, a former local manufacturer. While fireworks are an indispensable part of temple customs in Kerala, the local production is close to being decimated.
Nationwide, firecracker sales have dipped by around 20 to 30 per cent and the sales has particularly dipped in Kerala following the shock of the Puttingal tragedy, say experts. In Kerala, the government has also restricted the number of temporary licences given for selling firecrackers. The exact figures of sales will be available once the sales conclude on Saturday, say traders. “Unlike in states like Tamil Nadu there is no welfare board for this trade. The family of firecracker makers who get killed or injured in mishaps often do not get compensation,” says Mr Subodhan.
Your pets will hate them, too
Wouldn’t you panic and try to flee when an earthquake hits the place where you live? The dogs with paws sensitive enough to sense an earthquake in advance perceive each diwali cracker as an instant earth tremor, says a city veterinarian.
“Sometimes we have to tranquilise the dogs that get aggressive or highly disturbed by crackers,” says Dr L.J. Lowrance. “The only solution to prevent a nervous breakdown of your pet is to ensure your soothing presence and comforting. Foreign breeds such as Labradors get more panicky than local (feral) ones.” The owner should be with the dogs at their favourite spot comforting them, suggests Dr Lowrance. Usual response by the dogs will be to hide under furniture.
“Every dog will have favourite furniture it hides behind. The room that holds this should be made sound proof by closing windows. Stuffing cotton on their ear can also help.” Before cracker bursting spree begins on Saturday, one may feed the pooch very well, says the vet. “Feeding favourite food will help alleviate the panic,” he says. However, none of these measures can be foolproof, cautions Dr Lowrance. “Each dog is different from the other.” The smaller varieties of dogs like Pugs have highly sensitive cardiac system and should be given extra attention during diwali to prevent death, says the vet.