New Delhi: Keeping aside the usual bright synthetic colours, many are opting for the eco-friendly and chemical-free colours this Holi. Colours which are natural and do not have any harmful impact on the human body are preferred, an analysis by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) revealed.

According to the analysis, the demand for herbal and perfumed Holi colours is likely to reach Rs.4,500 crore this year.

"Considering the constant aggressive campaigns and rise in public consciousness against the use of low quality, adulterated, synthetic and harmful chemical laden colours, has driven the growth in demand for herbal and environment-friendly colours during Holi festivities," Assocham secretary general D.S.Rawat said.

Holi, the festival of colours will be celebrated Thursday. The streets of the national capital are already drenched in colour, with roadside stalls selling multi-coloured pichkaris (water guns), gulal (colour powder) and other Holi accessories.

The herbal colours available in the market, which are made from extracts of flowers, barks of tree, leaves which are natural and do not have any harmful impact on the human body and are in high demand.

"Even last year, people were not particular on the fact that the colours they smear on their near and dear ones contain harmful chemicals. But this year their is a increased awareness, herbal and organic colours are selling like hot cakes," Abhinav Shukla, a retailer from Lajpat Nagar market in south Delhi said.

Shukla added that the black colour is made from lead oxide, green from copper sulphate, silver from aluminium bromide and red from mercury sulphite.

"The colours made of chemicals can cause allergies, eye infection and skin cancer," Prasanna Bhat, a dermatologist at Max Hospital said.

Not just in capital, but according to majority of the manufacturers at Hathras, Kanpur, Mathura and Patna, the demand for herbal colours has been growing steadily at a rate of about 30 to 35 percent every year.

Most traders informed that the demand for herbal colours was increasing, as clients complained that the synthetic colours cause skin allergies, asthma, eye infections and other significant health problems -- which triggered them to shift their focus on making herbal colours.

"Though costly, herbal colours are a hit amid people as they are made from natural ingredients and ayurvedic preparations, and go through stringent quality control checks. Besides herbal colours are eco-friendly, non-toxic, soft, emit natural aroma and fragrance," Rawat added.

The chemical-based colours are priced at Rs.20 for a 100 gm packet. Natural organic colours cost double - Rs.40 to Rs.50 for the same quantity.

The demand for synthetic and dye-based colours is greaters from retailers in north and east Delhi areas like Bhajanpura, Nand Nagri, Karawal Nagar.

The Holi colours and accessories industry is growing at a compounded rate of 20 percent every year, the industry is likely to reach Rs.12,000 crore this year, Assocham said.

(Agencies)