The Telegraph
Saturday , October 30 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Spend a bomb on crackers this Diwali

Cuttack, Oct. 29: With Diwali just few days away, Padmapur village, which is also known as Orissa’s Sivakasi, is abuzz with people from across the state. They have trooped in here to buy firecrackers.

However, one should be ready to shell out a bit more this Diwali as the prices of firecrackers have gone up by 20 to 30 per cent as compared to last year.

Despite the price rise, local firecracker manufacturers at Padmapur village under Salepur block in Cuttack district are worried as they claim that their profit margin to some extent has taken a nose dive in the past few years.

“Due to the price rise of raw materials and labour costs, we are forced to hike the prices of crackers,” Tapan Mohanty (44), one of the licensed cracker manufacturers at Padmapur, said.

Padmapur village is famous for its tala-fatka, rockets, anar, kumpi (both flower pots), bati (colored sticks), chocolate and hydro-bombs, two sounds, three sound, five star and 100 star crackers.

As per an estimate, around 5,000 people belonging to 700 families are engaged in manufacturing crackers. Over the years, this has evolved as a cottage industry in Padmapur.

Surprisingly, there are only four licensed manufacturers at Padmapur who cater to the bulk of the cracker requirements during Ganesh Puja, Dusshera, marriage ceremonies besides Diwali.

Usually, crackers from Padmapur are exported to places such as Paradip, Sambalpur, Rajnagar, Dhenkanal, Baripada, Barang, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

Similarly, traders from neighbouring Jharkhand and Bihar also place orders as per their requirements.

Mohanty had learnt the skills of cracker making from his father late Sachidananda Mohanty, who along with Nanda Swain and Gandharba Swain acquired the same talent from late Ismail Khan. Locals say, Khan was the man who started the tradition of cracker making in Padmapur.

According to Mohanty, so far the business has not been satisfactory as the prices of all inputs including palm leaf, gunpowder and labour have gone up.

Intermittent rain, triggered by the effect of low pressure after Ganesh Puja, had affected initial preparations for making crackers this year.

However, despite the initial glitches, cracker business would take-off in a couple of days, said Fakir Nayak (54), who is one of the oldest man in the business in the village.

“I hope that things would change after other traders get temporary license for a period of five days from November 1 to November 5,” Nayak said adding that the weather conditions seem favourable for a perfect Diwali.

According to Nayak, despite being called the Sivkasi of Orissa, the village was yet to get recognition from the state government.

Despite the risk to life and property of those in the cracker manufacturing business, a lot of people in the village have taken up the profession.

Somehow they manage to earn a livelihood by making crackers, which is not less than a cottage industry that provides employments to hundreds of youth in the area.

The effect of crackdown on high decible crackers is being felt here. Taking a note of the stiff rules that the police have imposed on decible limit, the traders here are also making crackers that will light up sky with silent brilliance.

“As per the demand of the traders in the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, we are focusing on crackers that will light up sky without causing sound pollution,” Nayak added.

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