With Diwali just month away, traders reluctant to get green cracker permits
With Diwali less than a month away, the number of traders applying for licences to sell low-emission firecrackers has dropped significantly this year with many unsure about the products’ availability in the market.
While last year, around 600 licences were issued in Delhi although many more had applied, this year the number of applicants has fallen to around 100-150, said Narender Gupta, president, fireworks and general traders association, Sadar Bazar.
In 2018, the SC had ordered that only “green” (low-emission) and improved fireworks could be sold in Delhi, owing to concerns over rising air pollution.
“In just Sadar Bazar there were 81 licence holders till last year. This has come down to only 30-35 this year. This is because green crackers are still not available in the market and traders don’t want to run into losses at the last moment. We hope some supply is available by October 10,” said Gupta. “Last year too, our sales were low.”
Besides, only 10-12 varieties of green crackers, mostly phuljaris (sparklers) and anars (tubri), have been approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), which anyways means less business, he added.
D K Jain, president, Jama Masjid Temporary Fireworks Association, said, “We have around 45 temporary licences in the market, of which only four have applied so far. Many others don’t plan to apply and have switched to other businesses for having suffered losses over the past two years.”
Even if the supply starts coming in now, it will be too late for stocks to get delivered in time for Diwali, which falls on October 27, said Jain.
The Delhi Police, which issues licences to traders, had advertised on Friday inviting traders to apply for fire crackers licence . The last date to apply is September 30.
“So far we have got only a few applications. But there is still a day to go and we expect more applications on the last day. Only those fulfilling all conditions as prescribed by PESO will be given permission to sell fireworks,” said a senior police officer.
In 2017, the apex court had put a temporary ban on sale and purchase of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR ahead of the festival.
According to deputy commissioner of police (North) Monika Bhardwaj, under whose jurisdiction Sadar Bazar market falls, said, “Till Friday we had received only six applications. Those meeting guidelines will be issued licences. Only green crackers are allowed to be sold in Delhi.”
Traders in wholesale markets such as Sadar Bazar, Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk said this Diwali is likely to be a dampener for the third consecutive year, as there is no clarity on the issue and the matter is still pending to be heard in the Supreme Court.
“The SC is likely to hear the matter on October 15, which may provide more clarity on the matter. Till recently manufacturers had not even started production. It is unlikely for green crackers to make it to this Diwali,” said S C Jain, a fireworks seller in Chandni Chowk.
Meanwhile, manufacturers were optimistic that if not Diwali at least green crackers would be available before Christmas and New Year.
At least 60 manufacturers recently got the nod from both CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) to go ahead with making the green crackers.
Experts said all the crackers developed by manufacturers in the laboratories, following the chemical formula set by NEERI, were found to emit at least 30% less emissions. These were made by doing away with chemicals such as barium nitrate and adding new oxidizers such as potassium nitrate along with new additives.