Tribune News Service
Patiala, November 9
Following a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers in Delhi and adjoining areas starting midnight of November 9 to November 30 by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), wholesalers are dumping their stock in Punjab, eyeing hefty profits.
Cracker rates have already plummeted by more than 20 per cent despite the air quality in Punjab dipping from moderate to poor in the past fortnight following over 60,000 farm fire incidents.
As per the orders, if anyone in Delhi is caught bursting firecrackers during the ban, he/she can be sentenced to 1.5-6 years in jail. The ban has been imposed ahead of Diwali to prevent further rise in air pollution and will be applicable to more than two dozen districts across four states that are part of the National Capital Region (NCR). Only green crackers — considered less polluting — will be sold in cities and towns where air quality is “moderate”.
“Our super stockists in Delhi are offering discounts on crackers exceeding 20 per cent, and with down payments in cash, it touches 36 per cent over and above the discount,” said Amandeep Singh, a wholesale dealer from Ludhiana’s Daresi road.
Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that wholesalers in Punjab are being offered heavy discounts, in addition to delivery of the crackers within Punjab for bulk orders. Subsequently, the rates of branded crackers have reduced by 20 per cent.
“In case of cash down payment, the discount touches over 30 per cent over and above the existing discount,” said a wholesaler from Delhi, adding that the discounts on banned polluting items (high noise bombs and aerial crackers) are even bigger. “We have to clear our stocks, whatever it takes,” said cracker supplier of Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar. Cracker sellers said among the high-selling zones in Punjab are the districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Patiala. Sources said even before the district magistrates in Punjab issued licences for cracker sale, those close to the ruling party had already started stocking.
“Even if someone in Punjab wants to buy green crackers, there is no information on where these can be purchased. The administration has not provided this information. Every district should provide information two-three days in advance from where people can buy green crackers,” said a Punjab Pollution Control Board official, adding: “We will study the orders in detail and monitor the situation.”