For these traders, a not-so-cracking Deepavali

Stalls selling firecrackers in Hosur on Monday.  

The spate of heavy rains the city has been receiving over the past few days, combined with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, has had a dampening effect on the sale of firecrackers this Deepavali season. Shopkeepers, who estimate sales to have fallen by about 50%, believe clearing all their stock will be next to impossible.

The wholesale shops in Attibele and Hosur, where people head to buy crackers in bulk, too have seen a drop in sales. “It is the 75th year of Standard Fireworks, one of the country’s biggest manufacturers. But there is nothing to celebrate,” said Abdul, a wholesale trader. He attributed the trend to the incessant rain and growing awareness among people about the polluting effect of firecrackers. “A lot more people are saying no to crackers now,” he said.

He said there has been a general decline in cracker sales in the past few years and the situation has worsened this time around. “The area can’t take even a gentle shower. The recent downpours have hit business badly. All the roads leading to the shops on Mamulpet were flooded, keeping people away. Also, metro does not allow people to carry crackers aboard the trains, so travelling is a major hurdle for customers,” Mr. Abdul said.

The GST factor

GST, too, has played a role. “For many people, crackers have simply become too expensive. Prices have gone up by 30 % because of GST this year. It is another reason people don’t want to buy them,” said Arif Beig, who runs Shree Lakshmi Crackers at Attibele.

Paranjothi, a dealer in Mamulpet, said, “Two days ahead of Deepavali, we would have generally sold 60% of the stock. This time around, we have been able to sell only about 20% of the crackers. We won’t be able to sell much in the the next two days. At best, we will be able to clear 50% of the stock.” Mr. Paranjothi runs Sri Jothi Stores, which was opened by his father 60 years ago.

According to dealers, campaigns on eco-friendly and cracker-less Deepavali are also hurting their business. “A lot of school and college students are pledging not to burst crackers. A few years ago, people were buying crackers for ₹4,000. Now they don’t want to spend over ₹1,000. Also, the prices have gone up considerably. In the city, they have gone up by 20-30%,” Mr. Paranjothi said.

Campaign under way

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has allocated ₹1 crore for various awareness campaigns, including on a cracker-free Diwali.

“We have been campaigning in schools, colleges and apartment complexes asking people not to burst crackers. The campaign has had an immense effect. Even last year, we saw a considerable fall in the percentage of people bursting crackers,” said Lakshman, KSPCB chairman, adding that rains were likely keep the air pollution levels down this year with more people choosing not to burst crackers.

(With inputs from Aishwarya Mohanan & Nirmal Thomas)

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:50:59 PM |

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