Bengaluru: Covid scare, inclement weather and rains dampened the sales of green crackers in this tech city for the three-day Diwali festival, which began on a subdued note on Friday.
“With the Karnataka government banning the sale of conventional firecrackers to prevent air pollution amid the pandemic, only a few shops are selling green crackers in the city after they were exempted from the ban,” a trader told IANS here.
After banning the sale and use of conventional firecrackers on November 6, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa modified the order hours later to allow traders and shops to sell green crackers certified by the regulatory authorities.
Clarifying the difference between the conventional and green crackers, state revenue secretary Anzum Parvez said on Friday that the latter (green) do not contain harmful chemicals, thereby causes no air pollution.
“Green crackers are made as per the formulations laid down by the state-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI),” said Parvez a day after the Karnataka High Court on Thursday asked the state government to define green crackers while hearing a PIL filed by a lawyer.
The green crackers packing can be identified by the green logo of CSIR-NEERI and PESO (Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation) and a Quick Response (QR) coding system.
With Bengaluru accounting for 50 per cent of the Covid cases in the state, health experts advised the state government to ban the sale and bursting of conventional firecrackers, as they contain chemicals that pollute the air and harm people’s health, especially during the pandemic.
“Besides the ban, Covid-induced guidelines on bursting crackers and north-east monsoon rains have kept away hundreds of buyers from our shop. Sales have drastically dropped compared to last year,” a retail seller lamented.
The city civic body issues licence to traders to sell crackers in makeshift stalls in open grounds or at designated places in the markets, with measures to ensure safety of sellers and buyers.
“We usually set up stalls 2-3 weeks before Diwali on receiving firecrackers from manufacturers at Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu or wholesale dealers at Hosur across the state border. Due to the Covid fallout and ban on conventional fire crackers, this Diwali is not a festival of lights for us,” said another retailer on condition of anonymity.
“The state government has taken measures to contain the coronavirus spread, prevent crowding in public places and maintain physical distancing. All festivals this year, including Dasara, have been celebrated in a simple manner, mainly at home,” Yediyurappa had said recently.
Meanwhile, the state fire and emergency service department issued guidelines to the public to ensure a mishap-free Diwali in Covid times.
“Allow children to light fireworks only under the supervision of adults. Do not light crackers inside houses but in open spaces away from combustible materials,” said the department in a statement.
The guidelines also advise not to wear loose, flowing clothes while bursting crackers.
“Hold sparklers away from the body. Don’t bend over fireworks while lighting them. Light them from the side. Do not keep crackers in pockets or store them or unpack them near a flame,” read the guidelines.
The department has also advised retailers to sanitise their shops daily, wear masks and ensure social distancing of customers.