A week from Diwali: 11 licenced shops but scanty supply of green crackers

New Delhi

The fortnight leading to Diwali has witnessed slow business for cracker traders in Delhi, with only 11 ‘green cracker’ sellers being issued licences by the Delhi Police.

Police said most of the 97 applications received from crackersellers to sell eco-friendly variety of fireworks, failed to get clearance from the Delhi Fire Services (DFS).

With just a week left for Diwali, traders from the wholesale markets of Sadar Bazar and around Jama Masjid said that they will be meeting senior police officials to present their plight and request permission for sale of normal crackers.

“All application requests from Sadar Bazar were rejected. This was the last weekend before Diwali and shoppers were coming to the market to enquire about green crackers but no shops have permission to sell it yet,” said Narendra Gupta, president of the Fireworks Association in Sadar Bazar, one of the largest wholesale cracker markets in the city.

Gupta said that this year only eight sellers had applied for licences, against the 80 cracker sellers in the market. However, all the eight applications were rejected.

“From the beginning, the process has been problematic. The window for sending applications was so small this time that most of traders could not apply. Even though demand for crackers usually begins from mid-September, no licences were issued till October 12 this time,” he said.

Data from Delhi Police shows out of the 11 licences issued, six are from West Delhi, two are from Southeast Delhi, two from Rohini and one from Outer Delhi. Officials said most traders failed to get fire clearances. However, these traders can reapply for permissions after securing required documents.

“Those traders whose applications were turned down because they did not have the requisite clearance certificates have been asked to apply again after securing all other permissions,” a senior Delhi police official said.

The official said that while there is a limited supply of such crackers in the market, the police is stepping up action to stop any sale of old, polluting varieties of fireworks.

“People are also advised to look for certain identification signs in the cracker box to ensure they are only buying the permitted varieties of crackers. The box carries a foot note of it being approved after passing emission tests. It will also carry a logo and a QR code as an identification mark,” the official said.

Those who have got permanent licences for cracker sale are also facing problem of low stock and limited varieties.

“We are the ones who supply traders with temporary licences. But we are also grappling with a shortage. I don’t know if the manufacturers themselves got permissions late but the supply has been very limited,” said SC Jain, owner of Vishal Fireworks in Dariba Kalan.

At present, a few varieties of phuljhari, anar and chakri are available in the market, he said.

MK Jhala, joint chief controller of explosives, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), said that 28 manufacturers in the country have obtained green cracker composition approval from PESO.

“Most of these are from Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. These are the manufacturers who can produce single-sound crackers in the entire country,” Jhala said.

Green crackers are supposed to reduce particulate matter emissions to minimum. As compared to the traditional varieties, these fire crackers reduce PM emissions by nearly 30%.

Sumit Upadhyay, a shopper spotted at Sadar Bazar on Saturday, said that his family had come to the wholesale market looking for the green varieties of crackers but he could not find any.

“We also want to celebrate an eco-friendly Diwali but the children in our family insisted on bursting crackers. This launch of green crackers was a good initiative, but it is not available anywhere,” Upadhyay said.

There were, however, other shoppers who felt that the limited supply of even the less polluting varieties of fire crackers will help in bringing down the spike in the pollution levels after Diwali.

“Even the green varieties will only reduce emissions. Why burst crackers at all? Diwali is a festival of lights. This control in supply will help,” said Raghuvendra Gupta, another shopper who had come to shop for decorative items in Chandni Chowk.

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