Regular buyers say prices have shot up by 20 to 25 per cent since last year
With two days to go for Diwali, cracker sales were booming at Old Delhi's famous cracker market running alongside Jama Masjid with shoppers thronging every inch of space in the market.
Though several regular buyers said prices had gone up by 20 to 25 per cent since last year, shopkeepers maintained that the increase was only in the range of 5 to 10 per cent and that too on simple and non-fancy cracker items.
Apart from the usual crackers such as chakris, flowerpots, sparklers and bombs, some new crackers doing the rounds include musical sparklers called “Whistle Sparklers” that emit the sound of a train whistle on being lit and crackers that burst into multi-coloured butterflies called “Colour Changing Butterfly”. While the former is priced at Rs.150 for a pack of five the later is priced at Rs.225 for a pack of ten. Another interesting cracker on offer is the swastik shaped chakri which burns in four different colours and is priced at Rs.100 for a pack of five. The usual variety of crackers such as chakri, flower pots and sparklers are available at price ranges of Rs.20 to Rs.250, Rs.20 to Rs.300 and Rs.5 to Rs.30 for a pack of ten respectively.
To appeal more to the conscientious Delhiites, several shopkeepers have also stocked crackers with the assurance stating “no child labour involved in making these crackers”.
A shopkeeper at Ramesh Fireworks said: “Prices have mostly gone up in the category of simple crackers such as flowerpots, chakri and sparklers but they are still selling the most as even the lower income group can afford them. The prices have gone up as these crackers have to be spread out on the ground to dry. But because of the prolonged monsoon season, their production has suffered and affected the supply which in turn has pushed up their prices.”
“The two major brands that are in demand and selling the most this year are Standard Fireworks and Kailashwari Fireworks which is sold as the popular cock brand. Due to a government ban, none of the shops in this market have stocked any Chinese crackers. With each passing year there is more demand on crackers emitting light than sound as customers are becoming increasingly conscious of noise pollution from crackers,” he added.
A regular buyer at the market each year Ashish Sharma said: “Me and two of my friends pool in money and come here to buy crackers each Diwali. This year too we are here but instead of spending Rs.2,500 on crackers like last year we have only bought crackers worth Rs.1,500 as the rates have gone up. In fact, we had come here a few days ago to buy crackers for Dusshera and the same cracker that cost us Rs.35 then is now being sold for Rs.60.”
Another buyer Laxman Singh added: “I come to this market each year to buy crackers. While last year I spent Rs.3,000, this year I have cut down and bought crackers for Rs.2,000 only as the prices of the same crackers have gone up.”