Delhi’s cracker-sale ban gets support from children

Garima Singh New Delhi | Updated on January 08, 2018

Traders outside closed firecracker shops in Old Delhi KAMAL NARANG   -  Kamal Narang

But with sales set to implode, traders want the ban lifted

Patakhon se bahut pollution hota hai isliye nahin jalaenge iss baar” (We will not burst firecrackers this time as it causes a lot of pollution), says nine-year-old Bhumi, a student at Babu Ram School, in Shahadra, Delhi.

Echoing similar sentiments is 13-year-old Ritwik Tayal, who also plans to celebrate a cracker-free Diwali this time. He says he was influenced by a campaign in his school, which created awareness among students about celebrating a pollution-free Diwali.

The Supreme Court on Monday announced a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers during Diwali in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR). The apex court upheld the November 11, 2016, verdict which revoked licences that “permit sale of fireworks wholesale and retail within the territory of NCR”.

While traders and shopkeepers are miffed with the ban as it has a direct impact on their sales, the endorsement for the ban seems to be coming from children, who are often seen as the biggest drivers of sales.

School students have been at the forefront of the anti-cracker campaign in recent times. After a petition was filed by three children in Delhi, the Supreme Court had in August also instructed manufacturers to not use hazardous metals such as lithium, antimony, mercury, arsenic and lead “in any form whatsoever” in the production of crackers this year.

Traders fuming

However, traders have a different take. “The SC has put a ban on selling of firecrackers, but no such ban is imposed on bursting them. What causes pollution — selling or bursting of firecrackers,” said the owner of a firecracker shop in Delhi, who wants the verdict to be reversed.

“There was a ban on selling of firecrackers for the past 11 months. If they had to ban its sales now again, what was the need to lift it on September 12? By the time we purchased the products, the ban was re-imposed. Now, what will we do with the stock that we bought for the Diwali season?” asks Manoj Gupta, who runs the Shree Balaji fireworks shop in the Jama Masjid area.

Gupta alone has invested ₹6 lakh to stock up on firecrackers with the expectation of good sales before Diwali. This stock, however, cannot be sold any more. Inventory worth “crores” has already been bought by traders in Delhi, according to market estimates.

Trader groups have also approached the Supreme Court seeking relief from the ban at least for this Diwali.

Delhi is estimated to be one of the biggest markets for the firecracker industry, making up for as much as 30 per cent of the total market. Sivakasi, in Tamil Nadu, which is one of the biggest hubs for manufacturing, is estimated to have 800 units employing nearly 8 lakh people.

Maharashtra, too?

The ban on sale of crackers could extend to Maharashtra also, with the State environment minister saying that he would be discussing the issue with the Chief Minister.

This comes even as some TV channels reported that the Bombay High Court has imposed a ban on the sale of firecrackers in residential areas across Maharashtra. The court said the licences already allotted to shopkeepers should also be suspended.

Experts, however, said that the court’s order may be difficult to implement as in Mumbai commercial and residential areas are not clearly delineated.“Areas like Dadar, Mahim and Mohammad Ali Road have residences on one side of the road and commercial set-ups on the other so the court’s order may not be that effective,” said a retailer.

With inputs from our Mumbai Bureau

Published on October 10, 2017

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