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Hit hard by cracker ban in Delhi, traders ask: ‘What do we do with all our stock?’

Inventory price lakhs, ordered this 12 months or left over from earlier years, have change into nugatory for merchants who deal in firecrackers within the capital. The Delhi authorities, which had earlier banned sale, buy and use of firecrackers forward of Diwali, has now prolonged the ban for your entire pageant season until the top of the 12 months in a bid to curb air pollution.

Every year in Delhi-NCR, a mixture of dipping temperatures, low wind pace, and paddy stubble burning sends the air high quality on a downward spiral. Add to this cocktail particulate matter and poisonous smoke launched due to firecrackers on Diwali, and the air within the area shoots as much as the severely polluted class.

The ban, authorities officers consider, will assist mitigate the consequences which might final a few days, and even weeks.

Whereas the ban until Diwali was introduced on September 15, it was prolonged on September 28. The federal government had banned crackers in 2020 as effectively however the announcement was made solely to start with of November, every week earlier than Diwali. Although the announcement has been made earlier this 12 months, merchants stated they’ll nonetheless undergo.

At Sadar Bazar, a whole line of shops alongside Qutab Highway would have begun getting ready for cracker gross sales by now, however the ban has saved firecrackers away from the busy market this 12 months.

H S Chhabra, who runs a retailer promoting gasoline range gear and applies for a brief licence for firecracker gross sales yearly, stated 9 merchants at Sadar Bazar had utilized for momentary licences this 12 months. “Orders for inventory from Sivakasi are often positioned effectively prematurely, a number of months forward of Diwali,” he stated.

Whereas some merchants had already positioned orders this 12 months, others are not sure of what they’ll do with inventory pending from the previous few years. “Inexperienced firecrackers from the final two years are nonetheless left, inventory price round Rs eight lakh to Rs 10 lakh. We had been hoping to promote that this 12 months and at the least do away with present inventory. If they’re left unused for a number of years, the firecrackers start to lose their sound and lightweight affect,” stated Gurpreet Singh, who runs a toy retailer in Sadar Bazaar and had utilized for a brief licence this 12 months earlier than the ban.

“A lot of the inventory is saved in ‘magazines’ or godowns outdoors Delhi, in locations like Panipat,” added Chhabra.

The inventory is introduced into the town solely as soon as the licence is issued. Whereas some merchants may attempt to promote the inventory outdoors Delhi, most are anticipating that different states may additionally ban sale and use this 12 months, just like the Rajasthan authorities not too long ago did.

“Has sale of different substances injurious to well being additionally stopped? What’s the connection between Covid and crackers?” requested Chhabra. As licences are issued for a quick interval, prospects would generally fill up for different events as effectively, others stated.

What knowledge reveals

Information on air high quality after Diwali reveals that the impact of air pollution brought on through the pageant is felt extra within the 48 hours following it. Between 2016 and 2020, probably the most polluted day in a five-day time interval was both the day submit Diwali or the day after that.

In line with consultants, whereas low temperature helps within the accumulation of pollution, excessive wind pace will help disperse these — a rarity in winters. The inflow of pollution from stubble burning in states resembling Punjab and Haryana even have a direct affect.

After monsoons, the wind path adjustments from south easterly to north westerly. This implies smoke and particulate matter from stubble burning is carried into the town, moderately than away from it, and the wind will not be sturdy sufficient for dispersion. As soon as pollution attain Delhi, they keep and accumulate due to weakened winds.

Final 12 months proved to be an outlier as sturdy winds had been seen two days after Diwali, taking the AQI from a excessive of 435 to 221 in a matter of 24 hours.

For these within the firecracker commerce, in the meantime, the pay-off has been lowering annually. Whereas the Supreme Court docket ordered in 2019 that solely inexperienced crackers might be allowed within the metropolis that 12 months, all crackers had been banned every week earlier than the pageant final 12 months.

“This was the time of the 12 months when merchants made good enterprise,” stated toy retailer proprietor Ajit Singh. He used to promote firecrackers until a number of years in the past however stopped making use of for a licence when the federal government started to clamp down on gross sales.

Whereas Sadar Bazaar not has any everlasting firecracker shops, the cabinets are empty at three everlasting standalone shops behind Jama Masjid, with store house owners and workers idling outdoors.

Amit Jain, whose retailer displayed a spread of firecrackers until the ban, has packed up all his inventory and despatched it to locations outdoors Delhi. “Shops right here had inventory price a number of lakhs every. We will not hold it right here since there are common police inspections. That is the enterprise we’ve been doing for 3-Four generations. We’ll transfer on to promoting one thing else now, perhaps decorations for birthdays and weddings,” Jain stated. Chhabra and Jain have stocked up on toy weapons at their shops for Diwali.

Tarun Sehgal, a dealer from Paharganj, too has downed the shutters of his everlasting firecracker retailer and left all of the inventory inside. “What else can we do? We now have inexperienced crackers that we positioned orders for final 12 months, earlier than they imposed the ban,” he stated.

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