Firecracker retailers have been struggling to make ends meet for three consecutive years. This year has been the worst so far. Business worth crores has been hampered after the National Green Tribunal banned the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till the end of November.
The ban has hit traders who have spent money on temporary cracker licenses for the festive season. About 140 licenses have been issued in Delhi alone. Firecracker shops in old Delhi’s Dariba Kalan, the 200-old ‘pataka’ bazar are shut for the first time this Diwali.
“It is wrong to blame firecrackers for pollution in Delhi. The government does not do anything about the issue of stubble burning. They should think about the livelihood of thousands of traders involved in this business," said Rakesh, a firecracker retailer at Jama Masjid.
Another retailer Shayam said, “Both the court and government should have thought about this earlier. Not after we have got our licenses and invested huge sums in green crackers. This is the time of year when we get to earn. But now it will only be a black Diwali in our homes. We are not even left with money to buy sweets and lights for children back home."
“We shopkeepers have put our life savings in buying lakhs of green crackers, some of us have even taken loans. And now suddenly our stock has become illegal,” said cracker trader Amit Jain.
The shops are closed but retailers continue to sit outside. Not with the hope of selling the crackers but to lend each other a shoulder to cry on.
Rules in different states:
Rajasthan: It was the first state to impose a blanket ban on cracker sales, with a Rs 2,000 fine for violations.
Punjab: Has a two-hour window for Diwali and Guru Purab.
Delhi: The ban extends from November 7-30.
Karnataka: It first banned crackers, then backtracked. Green firecrackers can be sold and used.
West Bengal: The calcutta high Court ban covers Diwali, Kali Puja, Chhath and Kartik Puja.
Odisha: Sale and use is banned from November 10-30.
Haryana: Crackers can be burst for two hours on Diwali — from 8pm-10pm.