‘Third Dark Diwali In A Row For Firecracker Traders’

Harjeet Chawala, 40, a trader at Sadar Bazaar market in Delhi, says his business nosedived since the ban on crackers. 

Since childhood, Diwali for me has meant a host of festivities.  Firecrackers were an integral part of it, as our family has been selling them for years. Our business has largely been dependant on only one day -Diwali. We have had buyers for Chhat Puja and New Year’s Eve, but that was just a tiny fraction of our business. With the Supreme Court banning firecrackers and allowing only green crackers in the market, our business has gone for a toss. 

People in Delhi-NCR used to splurge on firecrackers, but now there is no enthusiasm in the market for Diwali. Delhiites have come a long way from competing with each other for bursting more crackers. I understand the environmental concerns. But I do not understand why the honourable Supreme Court has banned the sale of crackers and not their manufacturing. 

Green crackers, which the court has allowed are not available anywhere. Some merchants are selling them online, but they are not available anywhere in the wholesale market. People in the firecracker business have no idea about how they can be procured. We do not know how we can get a license for dealing in them. Whom do we approach for buying them in buk? 

A pack of green crackers is very expensive. You can find them online priced between Rs 300 and Rs 600 for a pack of six to 12 crackers. We heard that these crackers release smoke. Is there any license required to sell them? How can the online companies like Amazon and Flipkart sell them? Do they have a license for it? Are they safe to use?

The ban has left us with a string of unanswered questions. Even the government officials are confused. They don’t know the details about green crackers as many of them have never used or seen them.  We had many clients, mostly licensed shop-owners from western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Now they are also buying crackers from the manufacturers directly as any consignment of firecrackers is not allowed in the national capital. Like previous two Diwalis, this festival too is going to be dark for us.

(Chawala did not wish to be photographed for this story)

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