IT’S A never-ending saga.
For the last two years, UT Deputy Commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi had been issuing orders that sale of crackers would be allowed only at designated sites for the safety of people. These traders opposed the decision as they wanted to sell crackers outside their respective shops at local markets. But the UT Administration blinked both times, as political pressure mounted.
Both years, the decision was reversed after the intervention of MP Kirron Kher and shopkeepers selling the crackers were allowed to set up stalls outside their shops.
This year, Joshi is making his third attempt. He has once again issued orders that sale of crackers would be allowed at designated sites only.
Chirag Aggarwal, general secretary of the Chandigarh Cracker Dealers’ Association, said, “This is like discouraging people who sell crackers. When once the MP has intervened and told them to allow us, why to begin with the same issue again and again? For the last two years, this has been happening and this year too, we are struggling over the same issue.”
The traders have been making a plea that they don’t have additional manpower to be deputed at stalls at these sites.
“We all are small traders. How can the administration think that we may shut down our shops and travel long distance to sell crackers? Moreover, our local customer base would also be affected. Why would people in the local sectors go to such far-off places,” said Devinder Gupta, president of the association.
The members of Chandigarh Cracker Dealers’ Association met officers at the DC office on Tuesday as well. “Now they say that we can give our preference for open grounds near our sectors where crackers would be sold. We will meet high-ups now,” Chirag added.
DC Joshi and MP Kher did not respond to phone calls. Additional Deputy Commissioner Rajiv Gupta said that eight sites had been identified where the crackers would be sold.
Anil Vohra, president of Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, said that for the last 15 years, the traders had been selling crackers outside their shops and they would not approve of any such designated sites.