In view of a major fire at a cracker stall that gutted 50 shops last year,authorities are doubly cautious before issuing licences to firecracker vendors in the city this year,just days before Diwali.
Vadodara city police has received 40 applications,but is yet to decide on the fate of the licenses. The citys fire department says it is still awaiting an application from the organizers of the stalls for a No Objection Certificate.
The number of fire cracker stalls applying for licenses this Diwali has gone down. While 50 applications came in last year,the police have received only 40 applications from prospective stall owners this time. Although the stalls are being erected at the Pradarshan Maidan near Kirti Stambh,the police are still conducting their investigations and have not yet awarded any licenses. S M Varotariya,in-charge of License Branch of the city police,said,We have asked the police stations concerned to come back with reports on the investigations into the feasibility and safety of the premises since a fire broke out last year. The department will take a call on the same later. We have not yet issued any licenses to the applicants.
Traders say that some of the stall owners who suffered serious losses during last years fire have not been able to recover their debts and have thus decided to stay away from the business this year.
About 12 stall owners from the last time lost a lot of business and were not able to recover their losses. That is why the number of the applicants has gone down, a fire-cracker trader said.
Traders also feel that the stalls are located in a congested area leading to delays in help reaching them in case of emergencies.
According to the fire department,it is mandatory for applications to be forwarded to it for an NOC for fire safety. However,they have not received any applications yet.
Chief Fire Officer Hitesh Tapariya said,The organisers have not yet applied for an NOC,and so we do not know if the cracker stalls are coming up on the ground or not.
If we fail to learn from last years incident,then it will only show the administration in bad light. The ground is on the main road and close to residential areas. The stalls must come up in places away from the main road and approachable for emergency services. We need to rethink the licensing policies, he added.