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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Orissa High Court judgement on the use and sale of green crackers now appears to be a classic case of a day late and a dollar short. 

With the Court ordering for the sale of PESO approved firecrackers, the firecracker market in Odisha, usually dominated by local-made crackers, is at sea.

Post the HC order, and as the State government has made PESO license mandatory for the firecracker dealers, distributors and retailers, the traders have no idea on how to obtain a license in such a short window of time available.

With the non-submission of the certificate, Odisha police have sealed the wholesale firecracker shops in the State. The impact is then obvious on the retail shops across the State. 

A chaotic scenario is writ large in the biggest firecracker market at Jatni. Every year people used to throng in large numbers here to buy firecrackers. But due to the chaotic situation, the shutters are down for the distributors, godowns and the retail shops.

The side effect is conspicuous. It has taken a serious toll on the livelihood of firecracker traders across the State.

“We can’t understand how we could obtain PESO license in such a short span of time. Last year, the sale had been affected by Covid-19. This year we are expecting a good sale and has planned to repay our debts to the banks and money lenders. But the horrible situation has pushed us into severe mental and financial distress,” said Pramod Kumar Das, a wholesaler in Jatni.

The livelihood of the retail sellers is also at stake as they are not getting any supply from the dealers.

“We were hopeful of a profitable business this year due to good weather. Around 60-70 families depend upon this business to earn a handsome earning every year. But the government’s decision has hit our livelihood hard,” rued Siba Prasad Mohapatra, a retailer in Jatni.

The customers have also expressed their dissatisfaction over the development.

“Due to the faulty policy of the government, both the dealers and customers are suffering. Even the situation has led to the black marketing of firecrackers. Diwali will be a low-key festival this year due to the myopic approach of the State government, ” said Ashok Kumar Mangaraj, a customer in Jatni.

Not only Jatni, but the firecrackers ban has also affected the livelihood of manufacturers across the State. Hundreds of firecracker makers at Padmapur and Tigiria in Cuttack and Nalbanta in Ganjam have been hit hard.

“We don’t know what is a green firecracker. We urge the government to provide us training and raw material for the new product so that we could sustain and revive our livelihood,” said Padmanabha Nayak, a firecracker maker in Padmapur.

Meanwhile, most of the firecracker makers are of the opinion that the government should allow the sale of traditional firecrackers, or else, it will affect the livelihood of a large section of the society and push them into acute poverty.

“There is a huge demand for traditional firecrackers during Diwali, Kartika Purnima and Chhath Puja. If the government doesn’t allow the sale of same, it will be difficult for us to make both our ends meet in days to come,” said Subas Pradhan, a firecracker maker in Nalabanta.

(Edited by Sanjeev Kumar Patro)

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