The countdown to Diwali has begun with less than a week to go for the festival of lights. Residents have started thronging Ghaziabad’s biggest firecracker market located in a village on the outskirts of Loni.
The market in Farrukhnagar-Asalatpur village is home to over 50 licensed manufacturers, who sell firecrackers at comparatively cheaper rates — `10 to `30 per item or box.
Firecrackers such as coloured anaar, hand chakri, light pencils, apple bomb, LPG bomb and the old-time favourite, sutli bomb, among other items, are made here.
“Every Diwali, I buy a bag full of crackers and it costs me `500-`1,000. Children also enjoy visiting the market as they get to choose from a variety of firecrackers. People from Ghaziabad, Noida and even Delhi come here to purchase the low-priced crackers,” Jitendra Chaudhary, a regular customer to the firecracker hub, said.
Meanwhile, the manufacturers hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative would boost the sales of homemade firecrackers.
“We face stiff competition from Chinese manufacturers as their products are cheaper and are also sold illegally. The firecrackers contain chemicals which can explode if the temperature is high. We have decided that none of us in this market will stock or sell Chinese firecrackers as they are banned,” said Mohammed Rahim, one of the manufacturers at Farrukhnagar-Asalatpur village.
“Our crackers emit less smoke and the noise levels are low. We don’t prepare items like sky shots as manufacturing it is costly and needs sophisticated machinery. Banks don’t prefer giving us loans due to the hazards involved in the business,” Rahim said.
Most families in Farrukhnagar-Asalatpur village, which is home to nearly 3,000 residents, have been involved in manufacturing and selling firecrackers for many generations. Rahim is the eighth generation of his family that has been involved in the business.
“Primarily, generations of the Muslim community have been engaged in the manufacturing business. Now, even members of other communities have procured licences to manufacture firecrackers,” said Karam Elahi, another manufacturer.
“During the rest of the year, we prepare fireworks for marriages and other functions. We also buy crackers from Sivakasi (in Tamil Nadu). But, the transportation costs are huge,” Elahi added.