Every year, as the festival of lights, is celebrated, Delhi is enveloped by a toxic haze. It was observed last year that the pollution level exceeded the safety limit by 18 times a day after Diwali, regardless of a Supreme Court-directed ban on firecrackers. As a result, the smog remained in the city for more than a month after the end of the festival. In 2018, the apex court has taken cognizance of this failure and has eased the prohibition on the bursting of firecrackers.
On Tuesday, a two-member bench allowed the sale of “green crackers” with low emission and permissible sound pollution levels. However, the SC’s decree of moderation was accompanied by some stringent impositions that are likely to impact sales of a mostly unorganized industry valued at around Rs. 20,000 crores per annum.
The SC ruling also stated categorically that crackers cannot be sold on e-commerce platforms, including giants such as Amazon and Flipkart, and warned of strict punishment and monetary penalties if found to be in contempt of court. Sales were said to be allowed only through licensed operators, and not online.
Online vendors like crackermart, buyonlinecrackers, mycrackers.com, patakewala.com, FestiveZone and the Cock Brand have shut down sales with immediate effect following the SC verdict. Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal have also removed the URLs from their home screens that redirected the viewer’s towards merchant sites of firecrackers.
However, this judgment has been welcomed by local vendors who may not need to worry about losing out on customers through lucrative deals offered by competitive e-commerce platforms. Although the firecrackers market is still largely dominated by the traditional offline segment, due to stringent laws, many firecracker retailers turned towards online platforms in order to increase their reach after 2015.
Despite the gloom of stringent measures, the local markets are prepared for the upcoming festival with better and new variety of crackers. Sivakasi, a town of Tamil Nadu, is the biggest manufacturing hub of firecrackers, accounting for more than half of the production in the country and employs approximately 4 lakh workers in their
factories. They were relieved that the apex court has not imposed a blanket ban on the bursting of firecrackers, but also commented that the uncertainty has led to a dip in orders, forcing lower production levels and causing a loss of Rs. 2000 crores for the sector.
Well, at least this Diwali, some offline retailers might be at peace with the online domain!