Ban on green crackers leaves traders gasping for air even as Delhi chokes
Even as people in the city have started gearing up for Diwali festivities, the news of ban on sale of green crackers has lead to wholesalers and traders staring at losses. Following orders from the Supreme Court that allowed sale of green crackers in Delhi, traders had stocked up, hoping to see a good season. But the Arvind Kejriwal-led government in the Capital announced a blanket ban on sale, purchase and use of all kinds of firecrackers in the city from November 7 to November 30. In a tweet, the CM said, “Reviewed the corona situation in Delhi and preparedness with Chief Secy, health officials and all DMs. Corona cases have increased due to festival season and pollution. It was decided to ban crackers in Delhi.”
Counting losses and questioning the efficacy of banning green crackers, Ravi Bedi of Bedi Traders, says, “Yeh toh zulm hua hai. We had purchased green crackers worth ₹ 7 lakh. What will we do with these now? The Supreme Court had passed the use of green crackers, toh fir yeh kyu bandh karna chahte hain? For two years when green crackers were not developed, we didn’t sell anything, but now when we have an alternative, they want to ban it too.”
The pandemic had already left a dent on businesses, but wholesalers were still hopeful for Diwali. “Covid mein vaise hi log pareshaan hain, business khatam ho chuka hai. Thodi si ummeed jaagi thi Diwali pe ki kuch sale ho jayegi, par ab sab barabar ho gaya. Pollution ki saari report government ke paas aa rahi hai ki pollution isse nahi ho raha. Yeh paraali jalne aur vehicles ki vajah se ho raha hai. Trader toh marr gaya naa isme, voh ab kya karega,” rues Om Prakash of Fancy Fire Works.
Making a case for green crackers, traders argue that the pollution caused by these isn’t even a fraction of that caused by other factors. “Green crackers only create 4% pollution and that’s the reason they were okay-ed. Har saal license dete hain par end time pe haath kheench lete hain. At least give us clarity if they want to shut down this industry, and not keep us hanging to face losses. Green crackers have a shelf life of only six months, we can’t even hope to sell them next year,” says Rajesh Khurana of Mayur Patakha Shop, who also have their own factory in Rohtak, Haryana. In the wake of losses, he plans to shut shop for good. “We have been in this business for the last 30 years, but ab hum bhi thak gaye hain. We have packed everything and this is the last year we are here.”
Diwali always comes as a time of hope, and for people employed in this industry, this ban would mean loss of livelihood for many. “Financially toh bahut logo ka nuksaan hai. From trader to manufacturer and labour, everyone will be impacted. At least 8 lakh people will suffer, meaning 8 lakh families,” explains Vinod Kumar Gupta of Hanuman Fire Works, adding, “Dilli mein pollution Navratri se shuru ho gaya tha, aur abhi tak patakahe chale bhi nahi hain. It is clear that crackers are not causing pollution. Hum vyapaari hain aur chahte hain ghar-ghar mein Diwali manaayi jaaye, par jaan se upar toh vyapaar bhi nahi. Green crackers came as a viable solution but even now that’s banned.”
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