Firecracker traders in Delhi take home delivery route to dodge Supreme Court ban
Despite orders by the Supreme Court against the sale of firecrackers that are not “green” or less harmful to the environment in Delhi and the National Capital Region, such fireworks are being sold across the city in a clandestine manner.
On Monday, Hindustan Times reporters fanned out across markets to check the availability of firecrackers.
From Chandni Chowk to Trilokpuri, and Mayur Vihar phase-I to New Kondli, traders were selling their stock on the sly. Several customers in these markets confirmed that small quantities were available off-the-shelf and larger quantities, available for home delivery — all for a price.
The court, in its October 23 order, banned the sale and use of the conventional firecrackers containing polluting chemicals such as Barium, Aluminium, Copper, Lithium and Strontium. The bench allowed the sale and bursting of only ‘green crackers’, clarifying that these are not yet available in the markets.
In markets at Old Delhi, shop keepers were seen roaming around the streets in search of customers looking for crackers. Cycle rickshaw pullers and street vendors were conscripted as guides (or lead generators).
Most sellers were offering two options: home delivery, with half the cost being paid upfront; or an over-the-counter sale of firecrackers not costing more than Rs 500.
“We have to be careful. The market has a lot of police deployment and we do not want to risk getting caught.
“We can get any quantity of crackers delivered to your doorstep, but here we cannot sell for over Rs 550,” said a seller at Chandni Chowk, doing his business out of a store ostensibly selling decorations.
At retail outlets around Mayur Vihar phase-I, Trilokpuri sector-27 and New Kondli, the firecracker shops were closed, but the owners were reachable over phone numbers displayed on the boards of their shops. All promised home deliveries.
Even over the counter sales weren’t really those; the money was to be paid to the trader, with the crackers being handed over away from the market, at the metro station, say, or a local park.
“The sale of crackers is banned and selling them involves extra risk. The prices are up, especially if you need to purchase something that is not readily available,” said a seller at Trilokpuri Sector 27 market.
Local pan shop owners were helping buyers meet sellers. “The crackers are not being kept at shops because the police raids have increased,” one of them said.
Delhi Police records show that 3847kg of firecrackers have been seized since the SC order. Police officials said raids are continuing at major markets.