Nearly 40 firecracker dealers will set up stalls on the YMCA grounds at Royapettah, shifting their operations from the congested George Town area in North Chennai.
The dealers had earlier refused to set up stalls in the designated area on Island Grounds, owned by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation. They charged that the area allotted to them was water-logged, clayey and unsuitable for business.
Until two years ago, around 120 shops sold firecrackers in lanes off NSC Bose Road. On six lanes off this road, only 22 shops have licences to stock explosives. During Deepavali, however, almost every shop would sell firecrackers, compromising on the safety of customers.
In 2011, the court ruled that the shops should function for the festival from Island Grounds.
In 2012, cracker shops functioned from the Island Grounds area, but from an area different from the one allotted this year. The dealers said the area allotted to them then was neither clayey nor water-logged, and it was easy for Deepavali shoppers to make their purchases. This year, besides setting aside for them an “unfit” area, the TTDC called for tenders and the grounds were leased out to the highest bidder.
The dealers went to court seeking clarification on an earlier order which said retail firecracker sales can be done only from the Island Grounds area.
“Many small traders cannot afford to set up stalls by paying such a high price. If it rains heavily sales will be affected,” said Sheik Abdullah, president of a firecrackers’ association.