Restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court, anti-pollution campaigns, and greater awareness among residents appears to have had a positive impact, with firecracker sales recording a steep drop.
Wholesale dealers and retail outlets in Bengaluru say there has been a 40% to 50% decline in sales when compared with the previous year.
“We have been seeing a gradual decline for the past four years. But this year, it’s been very low. While the Supreme Court ruling has had an impact, people themselves have started buying fewer crackers. People seem to be losing interest in them,” said the owner of Ganapathi Bandarkar & Sons, a wholesale firecracker shop on Avenue Road.
The streets of Mamulpet, Sultanpet, and Avenue Road house some of the oldest dealers selling firecrackers from permanent shops. While once these shops were doing roaring business, especially during Deepavali, things are not the same now. The fact that we sell crackers round the year has kept us in business, shopkeepers said.
‘Spending less on it’
People are also spending a lot less on crackers, he said. “Earlier, a family would spend around ₹5,000. Now, it’s less than ₹1,000,” said Akash Ravikumar, who works at Madhi Trading Company in Sultanpet.
One noticeable trend is the increase in demand for fireworks that make less noise.
Wholesale dealers have also started setting up shops at various playgrounds and open spaces in the city designated by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). However, here too, there is a drop in demand despite price fall.
At the BBMP playground in Rajarajeshwarinagar, for instance, three shops of Standard Fireworks have been set up. “The wholesale prices have gone down compared to last year. Where a pack of sparklers was selling at ₹385 last year, it is now going for ₹268. This is because of GST regulations. So prices are printed on the boxes and are same across the city,” said Khan, a dealer.
The ban on online sale of crackers has also hit dealers. “Most of our sales would happen online. But with the court banning this, it has affected our business,” said one of the dealers.
‘Green crackers not available’
‘Green’ firecrackers, which are touted to be less noisy and polluting, are not easily available in Bengaluru. Wholesale firecracker dealers claim they are not available in the market yet. “The manufacturers still haven’t produced any,” said Ganesh Kumar, president, Bengaluru Fireworks’ Association.
Other dealers, however, said this concept is not new. “Crackers that produce sound above 25 decibels were already banned 10 years ago. The court hasn’t specified what exactly green crackers are,” said Praban Jyothi, owner of Sree Jyothi Stores.