Traders Furious Over Delhi Govt’s ‘Sudden’ Crackers Sale Ban Ahead of Diwali, Demand Compensation
People burst firecrackers to celebrate Diwali. (Reuters file)
The Delhi government believes that the current ban is only limited and in effect till November 30 and the traders’ stock can be sold at various other occasions. While the traders claimed that Diwali is the time when they make maximum profits.
Amid deteriorating air quality and a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP’s decision of ‘blanket ban' on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi has worsened the situation for the fireworks industry. While the upcoming festivals were a silver lining for the traders reeling under losses from Covid-19 lockdown, the ban has once again hit them hard.
“Traders do not have a problem because the decision is taken to minimise Delhi's pollution levels. But the government should buy the stock of crackers from the small traders and shopkeepers who have already bought it. Only then traders would be able to celebrate Diwali,” said Devender Jain, General Secretary, Delhi's Federation of All India Vyapar Mandal. Delhi government should compensate for the losses incurred due to the ban, he added.
However, the Delhi government believes that the current ban is only limited and in effect till November 30 and the traders’ stock can be sold at various other occasions. While the traders claimed that Diwali is the time when they make maximum profits.
Mukesh Kumar who owns a crackers store at Delhi's biggest firecrackers market in Sadar Bazar said that Delhi's Environment Minister Gopal Rai inspected his shop a few days back and he was told that green firecrackers that he was selling were good. “Who do we go to now? Who is our guardian- NGT, Environment Minister or Chief Minister? Do they not know that the Supreme Court granted permission to sell green firecrackers,” Kumar said.
Delhi government was unable to stop stubble burning, now they are blaming us for their incompetence, added Kumar.
Furious over the ban, Harjeet Singh Chhabra who owns the biggest crackers' store in Sadar Bazar, said, "Since we were issued licenses, we bought and replenished our stock. And now authorities are telling us we cannot sell them just as the Diwali shopping season is set to begin. Why did you issue our license to sell crackers if you wanted a ban? Didn't you know about pollution and pandemic when you issued us licenses? Why did you not ban manufacturing first? Neither would the crackers be manufactured nor would the traders purchase them. What do we do with the stock now?"
According to the Supreme Court's 2018 order, only green firecrackers can be made, sold, and used during Diwali.
On November 5, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a ban on firecrackers, and later on November 9, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a blanket ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi/NCR. The ban also applies to all cities and towns whose air quality fell below the 'poor' level last year. It will be enforced from November 9 to November 30 and it is said that the ban is to control pollution and to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
About 138 licenses were issued allowing the sale of firecrackers in the national capital. But Delhi Police on November 8 issued a memo directing authorities to revoke licenses issued for firecrackers' sale during Diwali.