AFTER THE Punjab & Haryana High Court orders directing that crackers can be burst only between 6:30 and 9:30 pm on Diwali day, Ludhiana deputy commissioner Pardeep Aggarwal Monday issued temporary licences to firecracker sellers. This year, only 40 licences were issued compared to 189 last year. This was only 20 per cent of those issued last year, the DC’s office said.
Earlier, the district administration had already allotted licences to 56 wholesalers who had set up kiosks at Dana Mandi. However, on October 13, their licences were cancelled and they were asked to shut their kiosks. On Monday, only 13 were issued licenses, while in the city area for retail sale as well, while 176 licences issued last year, only 22 were issued. In Khanna market, only five licences were issued and hence totaling it to 40. Sources revealed that not less than stock worth Rs 15 lakh is lying with each wholesaler and if it is multiplied, the cost will be a whopping Rs 8.4 crore, which is further to be sold to retailer and finally to customer by earning profits. Sources said now the 13 licenses will be selling the stock of the entire 56 as they have pooled together and later will find out as how much stock is left out.
Cracker wholesalers who had closed their kiosks since Friday opened them on Monday evening after 5 pm . Ashok Thaper, a wholesaler dealing in firecracker business for the past 40 years said, “Now, we have decided to open our kiosks 24×7 till Diwali night, because we have few days left now and there have been hardly any sales till now.”
His son Tribhuvan Thaper added, “Earlier, we used to close our kiosks by late evening, however this time it will not be the case, we have purchased stocks expecting last year’s sale and after hence we want to recover our cost price at least by sitting 24×7 for the rest of the days. After Diwali, we will collectively file a writ petition in HC seeking our revenue loss as the orders came when stock had already been purchased.”
Atul Kapoor, another wholesaler ,added, “When the government has no issue in taking 28% GST on crackers, why does it have an issue in bursting crackers? They should not have double standards.” However, deputy commissioner Aggarwal said,”Abiding by HC guidelines, we have issued only 20% of the licenses compared to last year, orders of compliance have been issued to officials in urban as well as rural areas. Police patrolling will be on to ensure that no one bursts crackers before or after 6.30pm-9.30 pm on October 19.