With the festive season having got off, a wholesale firecrackers market has been set up near the city's grain market but traders remain pessimistic about a buoyant turnover this time after a flat performance last year. They say the reason behind cracker sales dwindling is the heightened awareness about noise and air pollution as well as safety issues among city residents, particularly youngsters.
Traders are also upset over the administration's recent move to hike the lump sum tax on firecrackers from rs35,000 to rs45,000. While some traders say crackers have become dearer, others feel prices have in fact fallen as a result of new firecracker factories being set up in Shivkashi in Tamil Nadu.
However, despite these deterrents, about 70 traders have begun putting up crackers stalls at the temporary structures that were allotted to them earlier this month by the police department. Traders said they also had to pay tax to the Punjab Mandi Board, under whose jurisdiction the area is located, despite the fact that they are temporary shops.
Sanjay Singla of the Ludhiana Fireworks Association said the outlook for the cracker market continues to remain bleak. “An increasing number of people have now begun staying away from firecrackers these days. Schools and colleges are making a sustained effort to spread awareness about the damage crackers cause to the environment. As such chances of sales spiking during the festival season are minimal.
Also, though production of crackers has risen over the years demand has consistently decreased.”
Meanwhile, the police have asked the both wholesale and retail firecracker traders to ensure proper safety measures as piles of crackers kept at the market pose a potential danger.
“We've received a circular to take all necessary measures including installation of circuit breakers at every electric switch to prevent any short circuit besides keeping the items in noninflammatory sheds,” Tribhuvan Thapar, a wholesale trader, said.