NEW DELHI: Little profit, small-scale manufacturing and less variety are the most common complaints among the cracker-sellers in old Delhi in the run-up to this Diwali. They said the “only” redeeming factor for them was that they were allowed to resume their business, which had been brought to a grinding halt last year following the Supreme Court’s ban on the sale of crackers.
Maheshwar Dutt Srivastava, 56, who owns a shop in Bazar Paiwalan, said profit came down from 10 per cent to 5 per cent in the wake of the ban. “We have been hit hard. This business is our primary source of livelihood. We used to sell crackers throughout the year till the ban came into effect,” he said.
His 21-year-old niece, Prachi, who assisted him at the shop, said, “Adults may not bother about the variety but when small children come, they look for skyrockets and snakes and come away disappointed as they no longer figure in our stocks. Our business majorly depends on the younger generation. If we fail to attract them, you can imagine the extent of loss that we’ll incur,” she said. She suggested that the government “take measures like installing air purifiers rather than ruining their businesses”.
Another shopkeeper, who didn’t want to be named, said, “We are happy that we are, at least, allowed to open our shops. Last year, there was nothing, not even green crackers.”
A customer complained that rates of green crackers were higher than the regular ones. “There are only two-three types available in the market,” said Prateek Verma, a 27-year-old businessman.
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Vikrant Tongad from Social Action For Forest & Environment (SAFE), said since the ban came into effect last year, CSIR didn’t get enough time to develop adequate varieties of green crackers.
“There was not enough time to develop an entirely new type of cracker. The CSIR has done a great job. The entire process of certification and licensing takes time. There was no policy in place. Manufacturing at such a huge level could not have been done in such a short span of time,” Tongad said.
He added that the products currently available could cater to only about 10 per cent of the market requirement.
Additional Commissioner of Police, Licensing Unit, Suvashis Choudhary, said that issuance of licences is under process. “The total licence applications were 97. However, 11 were rejected by the fire department. Fifty three licences have been issued so far,” he said.
The officer said online sale of crackers is prohibited. “We will crack down on any online sale. Nothing from the old stock could be sold. We’ve directed district DCPs to take strict action against violators,” he said.
Over 700 kg of illegal crackers seized, 1 held
A man was arrested after more than 700 kilogram of banned firecrackers were seized from his shop in east Delhi, the police said on Tuesday. Vijay Aggarwal (46), a resident of Radhey Shyam park in Geeta Colony owned a flour mill and had stocked the firecrackers inside his shop, they said. He wanted to earn a quick buck by selling the illegal firecrackers ahead of Diwali, police said.
“Police received information about banned firecrackers being stocked and sold in a flour mill in Radhey Shyam Park, Jagatpuri. The team raided the premises where banned firecrackers were found,” DCP (Shahdara) Amit Sharma said.()