Ban no bar: Delhi cracker sales continue unabated

Oct 16, 2022 02:20 PM IST

New Delhi: There may be a complete ban on sale, manufacture, storage and use of all types of firecrackers in the Capital, but clandestine sales are continuing unabated – both online and in some of Delhi’s busiest markets ahead of Diwali

New Delhi: There may be a complete ban on sale, manufacture, storage and use of all types of firecrackers in the Capital, but clandestine sales are continuing unabated – both online and in some of Delhi’s busiest markets ahead of Diwali.

HT Image
HT Image

A simple online search with the terms “firecrackers near me” brought up multiple options in a test drive by HT this week. The sellers were not only willing to offer directions from where the firecrackers can be purchased, some even guaranteed home delivery across the Capital.

HT also visited the busy Sadar Bazaar market on Friday, and it did not take long to fine firecracker sellers with ample stock – most of which was purchased well before the ban on firecrackers was announced on September 7. While only “mock firecrackers” were on display in markets – made of paper, these make a pop sound when thrown on the ground -- simply enquiring about their real variants brought forward multiple people who could sell them.

While Anaars (flowerpots), Chakhris (ground spinners), rockets and phuljadi (sparklers) were easily available for 150 to Ts 300 per box, ladis (bomb garlands) were available for 1,000 per strip. A seller showed photographs of these items on his phone, and said the items must be a collected from another location.

Some other sellers asked for a minimum purchase of 1,000, and insisted that most of their stock was green crackers -- in one line what they are. To be sure, all firecrackers, green or otherwise are banned in Delhi till January 2023 after an order by the Delhi government in a bid to control air pollution.

“Green firecrackers are allowed in neighbouring states and so procuring them is much easier. We cannot show any of these items or even keep them at our stalls though,” said a seller at Sadar Bazaar, who asked not to be named.

While the operation at the marker was running under the radar, the online sale of crackers appeared to be booming.

A number of online sellers that HT called were willing to deliver items to the buyer’s house. One such number shared a rate list on WhatsApp: “Multi music rocket, 10 pieces, 688; multi-colour pots, 10 pieces in a box, 820; ground spinners, 178 to 312 per box; sparklers, 19 per piece, box for 184.” There were other wares as well.

“Deliveries can be made anywhere across Delhi and you can order stock upwards of 1,000 and even up to 1 lakh,” said the seller, stating the delivery will take only a day or two.

Other sellers online, meanwhile, guided HT to a pick-up point where firecrackers can be inspected and bought.

One such seller in Rohini sent a location in Rohini’s Sector 11, where HT inspected firecrackers kept in the back of a car. On being asked about the stock, the seller said one could check the manufacturing date of the items to know that the stock was from this year. “People can go to Gurugram and Noida to buy crackers too, but the same stock of green firecrackers is being circulated in Delhi as well. The only difference is it is 50-100 higher in Delhi per box. Those who wanted to buy them have already bought them in large quantities,” said the seller.

Environment minister Gopal Rai, while announcing the ban last month, said online portals will also be covered in the ban.

Delhi had a complete ban on firecrackers last year, too, while in 2020, it had allowed green firecrackers initially, before banning all types of crackers. However, it did not stop the sounds of crackers ringing across the city on Diwali, which falls on October 24 this year.

Enforcing a ban on firecrackers is also part of the 15-point Winter Action Plan by the Delhi government, which was released on September 30, 2022 by the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who announced that 210 teams have been formed to crack down on violators, including buyers and sellers of firecrackers.

But the real enforcement has to come from the Delhi Police.

Violators can be penalised under section 188 of the IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) by the Delhi Police, which carries a sentence of up to 6 months and a fine of 1,000.

A senior Delhi Police official, on condition of anonymity said a large number of the fresh stock seized in the last couple of weeks had been come from the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Both the states have allowed the sale, purchase and bursting of green firecrackers this year.

“They are being procured from the neighbouring states and being sold at a much higher rate in Delhi. Already, a number of such sellers have been arrested and nearly 5,000 kgs of firecrackers has been seized in Delhi so far,” said the officer, adding the crackdown will continue till Diwali and even beyond.

A Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) said these teams were coordinating with the Delhi Police and the revenue department, with the police taking action whenever a violator is discovered. “Action began on the ground soon after the notification of the ban was released and already several hundred kilograms of firecrackers have been seized,” said the official.

On the ground, however, sale continues unabated.

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