Delhi is set for its first full-fledged date with ‘green’ crackers this Deepavali amid growing sentiment against not deepening the air pollution crisis the Capital countenances every winter. A ban on fireworks was imposed in 2018 and in 2019 only ‘green’ crackers were allowed, but the permission had come too late for manufacturers to ensure their availability on time.
The production levels, however, are likely to be on the lower side this year due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, with the Capital continuing to register high daily numbers of fresh infections. According to the Delhi police, 40 traders in all had applied for a licence to sell firecrackers in 2019; this year they received only 28 requests, out of which 15 have been given the nod. Around eight shops in Old Delhi have an all-year licence to sell firecrackers.
Traders aren’t betting on heavy sales and have invested cautiously. “This year, due to the lockdown, the manufacturing of fireworks remained suspended. The lockdown was lifted only during the rainy season that is unfavourable for manufacture of firecrackers. Supply is scarce and due to economic slowdown, we are not expecting buyers because green fireworks are somewhat expensive compared to conventional fireworks,” said Ankit Jain, a trader based in Old Delhi.
Anto Alphonse, DCP (North), said a team of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation and Delhi Police would ensure the sale of green fireworks this Deepavali. PESO gives a final manufacturing licence after emission tests.
“There is a list of green fireworks manufacturers. The team will ensure traders purchase fireworks from authorised manufacturers in order to prevent the sale of unauthorised products. We also request people to purchase only green fireworks from licenced shops,” said Mr. Alphonse.
“After a wait of two years, we were hopeful of doing good business this year but the COVID-19 pandemic has severely hit sales. Even the wedding season was cold this year due to restrictions. There has been no sale of fireworks for celebrations other than Deepavali. Every year we are facing losses due to some reason or the other. I will surrender my licence if the situation doesn’t improve this year because solely depending upon the fireworks business for livelihood is no longer sustainable,” said a trader who wished not to be named.