Every year, the annual cracker market in Amritsar becomes lively a week before Diwali. However, this year the unrest in the state due to prolonged farmer agitations and desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and series of protests held in the Amritsar district has adversely subdued the mood of festivity, which is evident from the fact that even three days before Diwali, the cracker market is yet to be fully operational.
The vendors also blame the unrest, which had kept the district administration on their toes, for the delay in getting license for selling the crackers.
Amritsar Fire Work Association president Harish Dhawan, along with other members, who finally got the license and the place to set up their stalls at Ranjit Avenue three days before Diwali on Saturday evening, was spotted unloading the crackers.
This year, Improvement trust chairman Sandeep Rishi has designated an open area for the market at Ranjit Avenue, where unlike last year there has been a fall in the number of booths. Last year, out of 100 booths allotted by the Improvement Trust, around 80 were occupied, however, this year the allotment has been done for only 74 booths and only 62 vendors are exhibiting their crackers.
While speaking to Hindustan Times, Dhawan said, “The cracker market will be in full swing from Sunday, as all the formalities have been done and all the requirements have been fulfilled. Inspection has been made by ADCP (City II) Gaurav Garg and the file has been submitted in which we have fulfilled all the safety measures. Yes it’s late, but the entire procedure got delayed because of various factors. The biggest worry for all of us is that each vendor has invested around Rs 80,000 and looking at the slump scenario, it seems we won’t even be able to recover our investment. Earning profit seems to be a distant dream.”
A few vendors at the cracker market also confirmed that there has been a fall in the number of vendors. Few decided not to put the stall as they know they won’t be able to earn anything this Diwali. However, many who wait for the festival during which they earn their living for rest of the months, despite knowing the situation, they have put their stalls.
Vendors also appealed to the administration to give them permanent place as “khokha” system was unsafe. “In our decade-long association with this city, which is known for its Diwali, we have never seen such a drop in the footfall of people coming to the cracker market. Slump has not just hit our cracker market, but all other businesses have been affected due to the unrest and this affects economy too,” said Dhawan.
“There are various reasons associated to it, but the SGPC appeal for not celebrating Diwali has affected it adversely,” he added.
Another cracker vendor in the city, Subhash Gupta, who sells crackers outside at a local sweet shop said, “It is unfortunate to see such a situation in the holy city. It’s not that no one is coming up to our market. But the mad rush which was witnessed in the city in the past is missing this year. There are people coming to the sweet shop, but at my stall, the number is not even 50 % as compared to last year. May be this year, it would be an environment-friendly Diwali.”
Most popular cracker at the cracker market this year is Amritsar Anaar, which is called flower pot.
Then another two which are being sought after by people are Asharfi and Jasmine (Anaar) and 240 and 120 shots (Fire air crackers)
Most expensive - 240 shots, 120 shots varies from Rs 1500 - Rs 3000
High noise creating bombs can be avoided as they cause air and noise pollution.