Costly firecrakers may dampen Diwali in Bangalore

October 19th, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 19 (IANS) With firecrackers priced around 40 percent higher than last year, the sound and sparkle of Diwali may be missing here this time, both traders and customers fear.The firecrackers have become dearer as the cost of both raw materials and labour have increased drastically, say traders.

Revellers may have to be content with earthen lamps, candles, designer lights and sweets.

“Raw materials like aluminium powder, iron, sulphur, gelatin, barium nitrate and potassium nitrate, integral in making and packing firecrackers, have seen a steep rise in price this year. Thus, the prices of firecrackers too have gone up,” B. Vasudev Bhandarkar, a dealer of firecrackers in Bangalore, told IANS.

“Moreover, the factories are paying more to the workers who are engaged in making firecrackers,” he added.

The price of coarse paper wrapper has increased from Rs.5 to Rs.7 a kilogram. A kilogram of sulphur which used to come at Rs.9 till last year is now priced at Rs.52. The prices of other raw materials too have shot up, say firecracker manufacturers.

The prices of some favourite crackers have increased almost fifty percent.

A pack of Laxmi bomb will cost Rs.16, as against Rs.10 last year. A box of cap roll, popular among kids, will come for Rs.25, unlike Rs.18 last year. Price of cracker rolls has been hiked from Rs.30 to Rs.70. A high decibel rocket this year will cost Rs.180 as against Rs.110 last year.

The high prices are keeping the shoppers away from the markets though only a little over a week is left for the festival which will be celebrated Oct 28 this year.

“The business is not encouraging so far. The enthusiasm of people to buy crackers seems to be missing this Diwali,” a small time trader Rizwan Hussain told IANS.

Firecrackers dealers are hoping the sale will pick up in the coming days.

“How can Diwali be celebrated without crackers? We are hoping that people will come for them,” smiled Prithiviraj Jha, a dealer.

But Bangaloreans seems to have taken the high price of firecrackers quite seriously. Fear of the global financial meltdown is only making matters worse for the manufacturers, traders and customers.

“This is no time for celebration. How can we waste money on crackers when a global financial crisis is staring us?” IT professional Sumana Balakrishnan asked.

Echoing Sumana, Devraj Nanda, a city-based businessman told IANS: “Many are in no mood to celebrate. The effect of global meltdown can be seen in India also. When people are being hit hard by rise in price of daily commodities, spending on crackers is like a luxury and I dare not indulge in burning crackers this Diwali.”

Many are prepared for a scaled-down Diwali.

“Bursting crackers is a must in Diwali. But, as prices have increased, I would buy fewer crackers compared to previous year,” said college-goer Ratan Mathur.

Environmentalists engaged in an anti-cracker campaign are not complaining about the possible steep decline in Diwali fireworks.

“The crackers cause a lot of pollution, both air and sound. The chemicals in these crackers cause irritation of respiratory tract, skin and eyes. Crackers can also lead to damage of kidney and mental impairment. At least rise in prices of crackers will deter people from buying and burning these harmful substances in the name of celebration,” said an environmentalist, who did not wish to be named.

The city police is ready with guidelines to ensure a safe Diwali.

“Vendors have to take licences from us to open roadside shops of firecrackers during Diwali time. We’ll deploy police personnel across the city to avoid any untoward incident during the festivities,” said M.R. Pujar, additional commissioner of police.

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