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SUCCUMBING TO political pressure, the UT Administration on Monday took a U-turn by deciding that cracker dealers holding licences would be allowed to sell crackers outside their shops.
Till last week, Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi was adamant that crackers would only be sold at earmarked spaces and not outside shops. The traders and the Crackers Dealers’ Association had been meeting political parties since then.
“The traders who already hold licences are being permitted to sell crackers outside their shops. There are around 230 of them. However, the new ones would sell crackers at the earmarked sites only,” said Joshi.
He said that the traders being permitted at the markets would have to give affidavits that all safety measures have been undertaken there.
The permission was given after an undertaking was taken from the Crackers Dealers’ Association that from next year they will sell crackers wherever the administration decides.
Sources said that it was after the intervention of local MP Kirron Kher that the traders met UT Adviser Parimal Rai. After that, the DC asked the Additional Deputy Commissioner to hold a meeting with the Sub-Divisional Magistrates on the issue.
“We are thankful to our MP Kirron Kher who supported us in this matter. We are thankful to the Adviser also who intervened,” said Devinder Gupta, president of Crackers Dealers’ Association.
At a meeting with the adviser on Monday morning, the traders told him that most of them were small shopkeepers who did not have extra labour to deploy at the earmarked sites. They said that they had been selling the crackers outside their shops for years and it was a regular practice. Selling crackers at a different place would make them lose their customers in the festive season.
ADC Amit Talwar said, “All those with new licences will be selling crackers at the sites we have earmarked. Teams of SDMs have been constituted to check the decibels of crackers being sold.”
For around a decade, the DC office has been renewing old licences and not issuing new ones to people who sell crackers. However, this time, they have given 200 new licences. The sites where traders would be allowed to sell crackers are in sectors 38, 43, 49, 24, Sector 17 parade ground and three grounds in Manimajra, including the Dussehra ground.
In 2014, too, the administration had earmarked three sites — Circus Ground in Sector 17, Exhibition Ground in Sector 34 and Circus Ground in Manimajra — but had to revert the decision after local MP Kirron Kher intervened.
Traders have been selling crackers in densely populated sectors — 7, 15, 22, 23, 26, 24 — and villages — Burail, Kajheri, Maloya and Palsora. With little check, the traders violate guidelines pertaining to fire safety and encroachment.