Restrictions go up in smoke as firecrackers’ sale continues in Delhi

This year, many sellers have switched to mobile transactions to escape police action; experts say there is a need for public awareness for the ban to succeed

October 09, 2022 04:01 am | Updated 04:01 am IST - New Delhi

Crackers on sale in the Capital on the day the government announced a complete ban on them.

Crackers on sale in the Capital on the day the government announced a complete ban on them. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

A month after the Delhi government announced a ban on production, distribution, storage and sale of firecrackers, The Hindu found them being sold at several places in the Capital.

Firecrackers were used in many parts of Delhi during Vijay Dashmi celebrations on October 5. The Delhi government had, on September 7, announced a complete ban on all types of firecrackers, including the green ones, till January 1, 2023, in view of the spike in the pollution levels in the city.

This move was in continuation of the varying degrees of prohibitions imposed on firecrackers during the festival season over the last three years. And like all previous years, violations have continued this year too. The Hindu found firecrackers being sold clandestinely and openly, depending on the intensity and rate of the cracker, at multiple shops in Sadar Bazar, Jor Bagh and Jahangirpuri. This year, many sellers have created a list of firecrackers available with them on their smartphones and are ready to share their phone numbers too. 

Mobile list

Upon entering Sadar Bazar — one of the largest wholesale markets in the city — many makeshift shops were spotted along the Qutub Road selling firecrackers with labels such as ‘green crackers’ or ‘pollution-free’. These are low-intensity firecrackers, which are supposedly “meant for children”. There were more than half a dozen such shops at Teliwara chowk in Sadar Bazar.

On inquiry, random persons sitting by the roadside claimed to have a stock of “real” firecrackers, photos of which they showed on their smartphones while listing their respective prices. A box of ‘phuljhadi’ was priced at ₹450, a box of ‘anar’ at ₹1,200, a box of ‘bomb’ firecracker was being sold at ₹900 and its heavier variant at ₹1,100 a box, according to a list shared by a seller.

“The rates of firecrackers have almost doubled this year. Still customers are ready to buy firecrackers wholesale from us and sell them at twice the profit. The prices will only go up in the coming days,” said the seller, standing barely 100 metres from the nearest Delhi Police checkpost.

Another person assured that he had ample stock of firecrackers but he was selling them “directly from the godown” because of the ban. Both the sellers said could communicate over WhatsApp.

In Jor Bagh, a grocery store owner, reaching for firecrackers beneath the counter, said, “We have puljhadi and anar. How much do you need?”

At a nearby shop, low-intensity firecrackers such as ‘classic coloured sparkles’ and ‘wonder throw bomb’ were on display at the counter.

Awareness needed

“You can’t address the issue of the use of firecrackers with a command-and-control approach, as there is a cultural and social aspect to it,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a research and advocacy organisation in Delhi.

“For a ban to succeed, you need very strong public support for which there has to be awareness on the health impact of emissions from firecrackers,” she said.

Police action

According to a senior police officer, they have seized 331 kg of firecrackers in the Capital from areas including Tilak Nagar, Delhi Cantt and Palam Village, since the announcement of the prohibition.

The police are checking, verifying and collecting intelligence based on tip-offs received from neighbouring areas of Delhi, the senior officer added.

“Initially, the firecrackers were smuggled to Delhi from Gurugram. As we increased vigilance to nab the culprits, the smugglers began using different routes to avoid getting caught. Based on tip-offs, we have increased deployment along those routes as well,” the officer said.

On thoses who burst of firecrackers on Dasara, the officer said, “We have narrowed our list of violators and are in the process of zeroing-in on the suppliers.”

(With inputs from Samridhi Tewari)

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