Several firecracker traders in the national capital have urged the Delhi government to clarify its position over the nationwide ban on sale and use of crackers during Diwali. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a total ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi. With this, the firecracker traders are likely to suffer a huge loss, thus impacting their livelihood. Kejriwal has even made an appeal to people of Deli not to burn any crackers during Diwali in the wake of increasing pollution levels and rapid rise in the coronavirus cases.
Deepak, a cracker trader from Trilokpuri said, "I have a permanent licence and this time I had purchased green crackers of worth Rs 3 lakh. Now, we can sell them only after November 30. As per the Explosive Rules, 2008, the government should take a final decision on either abolishing it or let it remain unchanged. Every year, just a few days before Diwali, a decision is made against bursting crackers due to which we suffer huge financial losses."
Delhi Fireworks Traders Association (DFTA) member Rajeev Jain said, "The trial over banning firecrackers has been on for the last five years. While green crackers were promoted so as to curb pollution due to bursting of crackers but there is no clear definition of green crackers. Last year, sale and use of crackers such as 'anar' (fountain crackers) and 'phuljhadi' (sparklers) were allowed by the Supreme Court which helped us in mitigating some loss."
He said, "The decision of the government just ahead of Diwali has aggravated the problems for the whole fireworks industry. The state government should have informed us in 2019 itself that crackers won't be allowed so neither crackers would have been manufactured nor traders would have purchased them?"
"The pollution level has gone up despite no crackers been burnt till now. So, it clearly shows that there are other major reasons for increasing pollution. Rather than imposing a ban every year, the government should give more clarity on Explosive Rules, 2008," he added.
Fireworks trader Amit Jain, who runs a shop near Jama Masjid, said, "Last year, the Supreme Court permitted the sale and purchase of green crackers. The Delhi government has overturned the apex court's decision and is acting like it is above the judiciary. The cracker traders are suffering heavy losses. Temporary licences were distributed to the traders after which they bought the stock and now they can't sell it."
However, the ban on crackers has turned into a political slugfest too. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Goel is now demanding for compensation for the cracker traders. He also held a protest against the Kejriwal government in the cracker market near Jama Masjid. During the protest, he said the state government just trying to hide its failures by such measures.
Criticising the AAP government, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) President Anil Kumar said, "It is surprising that barely a week before Diwali, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has banned the sale and use of crackers causing huge monetary loss to the cracker traders. The traders who have recently purchased the stock of green crackers are crestfallen because of loss of business. The Chief Minister is simply not concerned about their plight."
According to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the cracker industry in India employs nearly 10 lakh people and more than 80 per cent of crackers are made in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. There are nearly 1,100 cracker-manufacturing industries operating there. The overall production of firecrackers in India has been estimated at nearly Rs 5,000 crore.
(With inputs from IANS)