With Deepavali, the festival of lights, drawing closer, the sale of firecrackers is yet to pick up this time.
According to V. Raja Chandrasekaran, president, Federation of Tamil Nadu Fireworks Traders, sale is expected to go up during the last two days ahead of the festival. The recent directive from the High Court allowing traders to open their shops till 2 am on October 25 and 26 ahead of Deepavali in Madurai city provided a big sigh of relief for vendors selling crackers, he told DT Next on Sunday.
Unlike previous year, price of crackers rose by about 10 to 15 per cent this year, owing to a dip in production, triggered by factors such as closure of cracker manufacturing units in Virudhunagar district, mostly in Sivakasi, for a period of four months early this year, and at the intervention of monsoon rains.
Since the entire workforce was engaged in a series of protests, demanding to resume production in cracker manufacturing units, which remain closed during the four month period, which came under compulsion of producing ‘green crackers’. With around 2,000 shops selling crackers round the year and 3,000 seasonal shops across Tamil Nadu, retail traders were not in a position to pick items of crackers of their choice this time, owing to a slump in production. Citing the State government as the only hope for promoting the sale, he said the federation submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy requesting him to declare holiday on Friday (October 25), since the festival falls on usual weekend holiday, he said.
As for N. Elangovan, general secretary of the federation and president, Sivakasi Fireworks Dealers Association, about 250 varieties, which were marketed during the previous year, are available now, but its volume has come down. Much to the agony of many people, the festival is scheduled almost on month end, by when people, especially the middle income group, could hardly avail of crackers. Nowadays, the craze for bursting ‘anu kundu’, and other variety listed under conventional crackers, among revellers has faded, but fancy fireworks has become the most sought-after ones. However, fancy items were costlier than conventional items. The fancy firecrackers were available at prices ranging from Rs 100 to the maximum of Rs 3,000. Unlike in the previous year, the market price of cracker items such as ‘amorces’ (roll cap) increased from Rs 35 to Rs 45, snake tablet (serpent egg) from Rs 80 to Rs 110 and colour match sticks from Rs 320 to Rs 400 and sparkles increased by 20 per cent this year. However, the sale is only expected to be around 70 to 80 per cent compared to last year, he said.