Amid the ongoing corona pandemic, the traders in the national capital are worried as there is very low demand and sale of firecrackers ahead of Diwali.
Firecracker factories remained closed due to the pandemic imposed lockdown. Therefore, their hopes of doing brisk business this year have been dashed.
Due to pollution and ban on the sale of conventional firecrackers, the trade has already been severely impacted for the last few years. People celebrate Diwali and Dussehra burning firecrackers, but the demand from them is on the wane now.
Though Diwali is nearly a month away, the supply of firecrackers in the market is much lower this time as compared to last year. Shopkeepers selling green firecrackers last year are sitting idle this time.
The green firecrackers are in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines and conform to the standards of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) of the Union Ministry of Oil and Natural Gas.
The firecrackers are made at the famed Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu as also in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
Delhi's Jama Masjid area has a 250-year-old firecracker market. There are nearly nine to 10 firecracker shops here and some are even 100-year-old. Though firecracker shops here are open throughout the year, several popular firecrackers, including "fuljhadi" (sparklers) and "anar" (flower-pot) are available at all these shops.
However, this time new varieties of green firecrackers have been made and are available in the market. Green firecrackers reduce pollution by 30 per cent and are more expensive than the conventional firecrackers.
Firecracker trader Amit Jain told IANS, "Due to Covid-19 all factories remained closed and the demand for firecrackers is also low this year as people have been out of work for the last six months which has adversely impacted the financial condition of the workers in the industry."
He said, "This year there is only 20 per cent demand for firecrackers and supply is even much lesser. In fact for the last five years, traders in fireworks have switched business."
"Now most people work according to the season such as selling colours during Holi, selling kites, working at weddings, etc. Though shopkeepers have permanent licenses for selling firecrackers they are not doing business like in the past. Business can't be conducted as usual this year owing to Covid-19 ,but in the coming year if financial condition improves then one can expect brisk business again," he added.
According to sources, the licensing department of the Delhi Police has also sought applications for the sale of firecrackers this year. As many as 260 firecracker traders have applied for temporary licences till now. However, in Delhi nearly 200 to 250 firecracker traders have permanent licences.
Rajiv Jain, President of the Delhi Fireworks Traders Association, told IANS,"Every year or the other misfortune befalls firecracker traders just days before the festival of Diwali. Should the Explosives Act passed by Parliament be scrapped? The firecrackers industry works throughout the year, but a ban on firecrackers is imposed 10 days before Diwali while people of all religions are involved in this trade."
He said, "You must announce that Diwali will not be celebrated in 2021 so that we don't engage in firecracker business for the whole year and halt our work. The whole year we eagerly await Diwali but unfortunately the ban on firecrackers is announced at the last minute which is absolutely wrong. A person who engages in his work through ethical means for a whole year is finally labelled as engaged in illegal trade."
"In 2018, the Supreme Court banned the sale and burning of firecrackers in Delhi citing pollution caused by them."
However, there will be no shortage in availability of green firecrackers in Delhi. This time at least 50 types of firecrackers will be available in the Delhi markets.
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