Firecracker manufacturing units in Farrukhnagar-Asalatpur village wore a deserted look on Saturday after the Supreme Court banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) to mitigate air pollution.
Sixty-nine-year-old Maqsood Ali, sitting idle in front of his shop, said that his last sale was on Friday, for ₹200. He said that sales were already low due to the demonetisation of ₹500, ₹1,000 notes, but the SC decision has robbed him of his livelihood.
“Usually, we make sales worth ₹50,000 to ₹2 lakh in this period, but sales this time were negligible. We procure stock from south India, but did not order due to the demonetisation,” Ali said.
“Now, the ban on sale will directly affect us and our workers, who come from Bihar, east and west UP, and also those working in factories in south Indian cities. We know only the craft of making fireworks. Generations of our family have been doing this, but all this will stop now. We don’t have agricultural land or skills for other professions,” he said.
Ali’s 22-year-old grandson, Bilal, who has followed in his grandfather’s footsteps, said, “During Diwali, there was hardly any wind in the region that could disperse the air. As a result, there was dense smog and pollution, but other factors contribute to air pollution on a daily basis. Now, we face an issue of rehabilitating ourselves. There is a big question mark hanging over our heads.”
According to local estimates, there is a sale of products worth ₹4-₹5 crore during Diwali and wedding season. Villagers said that their representatives are in Delhi for a meeting of fireworks manufacturers.
Manufacturers said they have suspended work. “We will also call a meeting in Loni, where manufacturers and wholesalers from western UP will decide on the course of action. Besides the business itself, the ban will affect activities of allied sectors — transportation, labour and retailers. Nearly 250 families have been doing this business for generations and don’t know another trade,” Asif Ali, a fireworks manufacturer, said.
According to official statistics, there are 64 licensed sellers and manufacturers of fireworks in the area. Nearly 350 temporary sales licences are also issued during Diwali.
Sellers shut shops and godowns on Saturday. The area, where there are mammoth crowds in the wedding season, was vacant. “I still have stock worth ₹ 5-₹7 lakh, but I cannot sell it. If authorities are serious about curbing pollution, they should ban the sale of cars and diesel fuel. There is hardly any check on the rampant pollution due to construction activities. Other industries outside NCR will also be affected if we cannot sell our product,” he said.
Besides Farrukhnagar, there are many fireworks manufacturers in villages of Hapur and Meerut districts as well.
Nidhi Kesarwani, the district magistrate of Ghaziabad, said, “We are yet to receive the court order and subsequent directions from the state government. We will implement the orders immediately after receiving them.”