Bang goes out of Sisendi firework units
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Bang goes out of Sisendi firework units

Inflation, growing anti-cracker awareness and the 2014 blast have caused a decline in cracker manufacturing, so much so that only one unit is operational, finds out HT on a visit to the town near Lucknow

lucknow Updated: Oct 08, 2017 13:52 IST
Oliver Fredrick 
Oliver Fredrick 
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
A woman making mehtab in Sisendi near Lucknow.(Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

Cracker manufacturing is virtually on its last leg in Sisendi, the small town near Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow which was once the hub of legal as well as illegal fireworks units. Inflation, growing anti-cracker awareness and largely the 2014 cracker factory tragedy played an important role in the formidable decline in cracker manufacturing in the town that had been in the trade since the British era.

On being asked about crackers, the locals here say, “Crackers are no longer made here.” Be it legal or illegal cracker manufacturing units, people say the business does not more flourish in Sisendi anymore. The majority of people cited the 2014 cracker factory tragedy as the main reason behind the declining cracker business. “The 2014 incident was an eye opener and many illegal cracker factories closed down on their own while the licenses of other legal units got cancelled,” said Sarvesh Savita, a barber in the local market.

Septuagenarian Savita said Sisendi had a long history of cracker manufacturing. “I learnt from my father and elders that Sisendi’s crackers were quite famous. It’s the rare composition of chemical (called shora in local lingo) and powdered charcoal that makes the crackers quite popular in the market. In fact, Sisendi’s crackers were famous during the British era too,” she said.

An ‘anaar’ being filled with chemical and powdered charcoal (HT Photo)

Presently, there is only one license holder left in Sisendi, who largely manufactures mehtaab and anaar. “We are the only ones left in Sisendi. Our license, that is 80 years old, got cancelled after the 2014 blast but I got it renewed recently,” said Shakir Ali, the lone licensed cracker manufacturer in Sisendi.

Ali strictly follows the fire safety norms and has proper fire safety equipments in place to meet any exigency. “I have ensured all fire safety measures at the unit that is situated on farmland,” said Ali, as he highlighted the arrangement.

Ali said cracker manufacturing was his ancestral trade. But over the years, the trade witnessed a sharp dip and the 2014 blast played an important role in it.. Other than this, inflation and growing anti-cracker awareness also played spoilsport. He said the cost of chemical (shora) had reached to Rs90 per kg and charcoal Rs 60. Besides, the cost of other chemicals used in crackers had also gone up, making it difficult to meet the expenses.

“Our business is declining day by day. I don’t own land, nor have any other source of income. So I am left with no option but to carry on the ancestral business,” he said while filling the inflammable mixture into an earthen anaar.

He said he knew that his business would not last for long. “But I am doing it till I am alive,” he added on an emotional note.

First Published: Oct 08, 2017 13:52 IST