UT DEPUTY Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi’s third attempt to regulate cracker sellers seems to have borne fruit this time. MP Kirron Kher told Chandigarh Newsline that she tried hard to help the cracker sellers but setting up stalls inside markets was a fire hazard. So, firecrackers this time would not be easily available at local markets as they would be sold from designated sites only. For the last two years, cracker sellers had been getting the DC’s decision of selling crackers from designated sites reversed following an intervention by the Member of Parliament. But, this time, even the MP has expressed her helplessness as according to her, even the Governor was in the loop. The DC, this time, had ordered that crackers would be sold from designated sites itself but the traders have been opposing it.
Kher said people’s safety was most important. “These people (cracker sellers) met me. But when something is not legally possible, how can that be done? In fact, I spoke to all the officers and they informed that the Governor, too, was in the loop. He had taken the advice of the police which said a big no owing to a fire hazard,” the MP said.
When reminded that she had intervened last time, Kher said, “People come to me with their demands and I take them up with the administration. Sometimes, time is taken to formulate a policy and only till then permission is given. God forbid if something happens, who will take responsibility? Everybody saw the fire incident at Sector 34 recently.”
Despite agreeing to the fact that for local residents, it was convenient to buy crackers from local markets, she said safety has to be seen first.
Even as the UT Administration increased the number of designated sites from 8 to 17 on Thursday, the cracker sellers continued to oppose it and have been making attempts to put political pressure on the administration. The association even met BJP chief Sanjay Tandon in the evening but in vain.
Chirag Aggarwal, general secretary of the Chandigarh Cracker Sellers Association, said they would not accept the designated sites and move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the administration. “For the past many years, we have been setting up stalls in our markets. We, small traders, do not have manpower which may be deployed additionally at these sites nor does the administration want us to close down our shop and then sell crackers,” he said.
The new sites allowed by UT are Masjid ground at Sector 20, three grounds at Manimajra, a ground at Ram Darbar, Sector 29, Dhanas, Sector 24, Dussehra ground at Sector 24, open space in Palsora, ground in sector 45, Ramleela ground at Sector 46, ground at Sector 43 and others. Additional DC Rajiv Gupta said they have increased the number of sites.
The UT Administration has also decided to issue licence to all 360 people who applied, old and new, but they would be allowed to sell crackers only from the designated sites. As UT was unwilling to issue new licenses this time, sources said political leaders suggested that they should not be too rigid when the officers were having their way of allowing the sale of crackers from designated sites only.