A group of them in Parry's Corner have been told to relocate to Island Grounds

While the city is abuzz with people making their festival purchases with only a little more than a week left for Deepavali, a group of firework dealers in Parry's Corner are grappling with a Madras High Court order asking them to relocate to Island Grounds.

The order had directed the city police to complete the process of allotting space, inspection of makeshift shops and issue temporary licenses by October 18 to several wholesale dealers functioning on Bunder Street, Badrian Street, Malayaperumal Street, Anderson Street and Umpherson Street.

The move which was targeted at removing firework shops from congested areas of Parrys has not gone down well with dealers. Sheikh Abdullah, secretary, Chennai Metropolitan City Firecrackers Sellers Association says no arrangements have been made at the Island Grounds. “Though we have been ordered to move, we have been instructed to make the makeshift structures which will easily take 15 to 20 days,” he said. Dealers say that they were informed about the move only a few weeks ago. “We would not have had a problem with this if they had told us earlier. With less than 10 days left for Deepavali, how will we do business if we move there?” asks K.A.Razack, a dealer on Badrian Street. Other grievances include lack of protection from the unexpected rains and safety for the goods in an open ground.

The relocation will only add to their problems say dealers. “The ground is near a slum area, even if one rocket is let off, all the shops will burn down,” says A.Ansari, a trader on Malayaperumal Street. “The initial case was filed against those hawking crackers on the sidewalk but it has now been extended to even those dealers who have concrete shops,” he says.

However, the licensing embargo does not extend to other parts of the city as the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services has issued more than 350 No Objection Certificates until last week. Licences have been awarded to only two dealers in Purasawalkam and none in T.Nagar say a TNFRS official.

Those dealers who have been awarded licences have to comply with certain rules such as maintaining a 15 metre gap between two shops, vending from concrete shops with specified dimensions and separate entry and exit points.

New items

Meanwhile a cracker company has introduced 150 varieties this festival season. But Shahid Basha, a dealer, says owing to fire accidents at the factories and workers' strikes, the production has reduced this year and prices have slightly increased.

Yet, ‘fancy items that explode in the sky' is still the most sought after by customers which sport fancy names such as ‘Sunflower break dance', ‘Lion King' and ‘Jumping Frog'. However, the Commissioner of Police has requested the public to avoid bursting of ‘Atom Bomb', ‘Aeroplane', ‘Elephant Crackers', ‘Sputnik' and ‘Rocket' and other such varieties of crackers with very high decibel levels. And crackers can be burst only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

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