Cracking the whip: Traders bemused at HC order

Cracker business is a seasonal one with shelf life of just a few days before Deepavali. Traders are now confused whether to sell them or not.  

Stunned by the Telangana High Court’s order directing the State government to immediately ban firecrackers, retailers across the State are nonplussed over the unsold stock.

“Neither can it be sold nor stored by thousands of retailers, who procured the stock worth crores, much prior to the festival,” said J. Manik Rao of Fireworks Dealers’ Association of Telangana.

Though apprehensions were raised about sale of firecrackers in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic and many states have already banned it, in Telangana the pre-demand for the fireworks made the wholesale traders to order for consignments from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu and other places.

“We wholesalers will have storage facilities, but what about retailers, as the bombs and flower pots have potentiality to ruin by exploding in unconventional ways like the High Court order,” Mr. Rao said.

Diwali firecracker business is a seasonal one with shelf life of just a few days before the festival. It should be sold 100% drawing the inventory to zero level, the trader believes.

The association estimated that both wholesalers and retailers in Telangana have incurred a loss of at least ₹150 crore due to sudden ban and financial implications of it on small traders is humongous.

“We appeal to the State government to rescue us from this unexpected financial burden,” said Sanjay Kumar Bhope of Shanti Fireworks, Hyderabad.

He said that they are confused whether to sell the firecrackers to consumers who have thronged the outlets, many accompanied by children.

“With Diwali just a day away, how the government is going to implement the order is a big question now. So far, we haven’t got any instructions to stop the sale,” Mr. Bhope said.

He said that the High Court’s directive will have a huge impact on the 50,000-odd families, who are directly and indirectly associated with the business.

Earlier, Mr. Rao said that the State government should have taken a call on the matter like other states did, including Karnataka, so that traders had enough time to alert retailers who borrow money from private financiers at a very high interest to invest in the business.

“Even as we speak, people are buying the stock from outlets. The government should have sympathy for us,” he said.

Mr. Rao questioned how the government will stop people from bursting firecrackers as more than 60% of the stock is already purchased. “Will police stand on every nook and corner of the State wielding lathis to stop people from bursting crackers,” he questioned.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:49:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/cracking-the-whip-traders-bemused-at-hc-order/article33087636.ece

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