Famous for its wholesale rates, the firecracker market in Mohali district’s Kurali, the biggest in the region, has suffered due to the pandemic with some wholesalers claiming that the sales have gone down by almost 50%.
The wholesalers in Kurali supply firecrackers to Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and various parts of Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir, and normally witness business of nearly ₹7 crore every year.
Manik Bathla, a fireworks wholesaler, who has been in the business for the last two decades, said due to the pandemic, people of other districts were not coming to the market. “Unlike this year, people used to come one month before Diwali to buy firecrackers, but now the festival is just a week away and the market wears a deserted look.”
Another wholesaler, Pankaj Garg, said that this was the first time that the business had gone down by 50%: “Now the Chandigarh administration has banned bursting of firecrackers, which is a major loss to our business.”
Even in Mohali, in line with the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court, temporary licences were to be restricted to 20% of those issued in 2016. As such, against the 771 applications received for permits, the administration issued only 44 licences for Mohali, Sohana and Balongi. Besides, sale of firecrackers is allowed at just 12 designated places in the district.
Sundar Lal Manju, president of Kurali Firecracker Dealers’ Association, said there was a slump in the market as retailers had yet to place their orders. He said they hoped to get the orders after the traders in the region received temporary licences. “This year small-time businessmen were scared of investing money in this business,” he added.
No green firecrackers this year either
Like previous years, wholesale dealers said they had not procured any stock of green firecrackers as there was no demand even as Diwali is just a week away. Green firecrackers are environment-friendly as they have low noise, no flame, no harmful pollution-causing chemicals, but emit a lot of light.
“When there is no demand for green firecrackers, why would anyone procure them?” said Manik Bathla.
“There is still no clear definition of green firecrackers, and there are not many suppliers in the market. Traders order as per demand. We have yet to get any order,” he said.
3 illegal shops sealed in Mohali
Acting tough on illegal sale of firecrackers, sub-divisional magistrate of Kharar, Himanshu Jain, sealed three shops that were operating without licence. Jain said warnings against the illegal sale of firecrackers had been issued. “We have already sealed three shops,” he said.