THE MOHALI administration on Monday held the draw of lots for setting up cracker stalls in the district. Though the administration received 311 applications, as per the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling, stalls were issued to 20 per cent of the applications received last year according to which, 43 licences were issued against 218 last year. After three applications from Mullanpur and Nayagaon were cancelled on technical grounds, 40 licenses were issued at last count. Cracker sellers from Kurali – the biggest market in the region – showed less interest as only four sites were allotted.
As many as 26 cracker sellers had applied for licence. The draw was carried out under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Kaur Sapra. Successful applicants will deposit Rs 150 each to get the licence. The sale would begin after that. The DC said they received 132 applications from Mohali, 26 from Kurali, 23 from Kharar, 53 from Derabassi, 28 from Banur, 1 from Nayagaon, 45 from Zirakpur, 1 from Lalru and 3 from Mullanpur Garibdas. Last year, of the 270 applications received, 218 were eligible.
The DC further said that 14 licences were issued in Mohali city, 4 in Kurali, 3 in Kharar, 6 in Derabassi, 4 in Banur and 8 in Zirakpur. The officials cancelled four applications (2 in Mullanpur and 1 in Nayagaon) as no official site could be identified. “According to the HC ruling, a total of 43 licences were to be issued but since four applications were cancelled, the number came down to 39,” Sapra added. The licenses of those applicants who could not turn up for the draw on time were cancelled. Similarly, the district administration also issued only one licence in case of more than one applicants from a family.
Earlier in the day, the DC visited Kurali after many cracker sellers protested, demanding that they should be allowed to sell firecrackers. During the draw, some people also raised objections. Eish Malhotra, a Zirakpur-based cracker seller, said three members of his family had applied for licence and two were successful. But the administration did not issue the licence to them. The DC, however, said Malhotra’s family members in whose names the licences were issued were not present during the draw and so they rejected his application.
Baljinder Singh, another cracker seller, said he had invested nearly Rs 5 lakh by taking loan but he could not get the licence and now his entire money had gone down the drain. “We have only one demand that we should be given more time, the decision has ruined us,” he added. Ajmer Singh, a Kurali cracker seller, said he had invested around Rs 9 lakh but failed to get the licence and he had to repay his loan with high interest. Meanwhile, the district administration has decreased the number of sites for setting up cracker stalls from 14 to 10. Now, the cracker stalls will be set up at one place at the Dussehra ground.