Diwali will be a costly affair this time. The prices of the various fire crackers are set to shoot up by at least 15-20 per cent and burn your pocket. Wholesale traders in the city claim that hike in wages, prices of material and fuel have led to an inevitable increase in cost of production. A packet of 120 shots which cost `90 last year, will now cost `120. In the same way, the cost of a small flower pot is `35 now, compared to `30 last year.
“The workers in Sivakasi, where everything is made, have demanded more wages, and simply refused to work otherwise,” explained Sanjay Kumar Bhope, owner of Shanti Fire Works, at Begum Bazaar. '
He explained that other factors like availability of materials and the recent price hike of diesel also added to the cost of crackers.
“Since the crackers traders in the city procure are completely handmade, everything is reliant on labour,” Bhope pointed out.
Amarnath, who runs TM Agencies at Ranigunj, explained that like all the other commodities, fire cracker prices had to inevitably increase. “You can’t help it, there are added costs in this business too,” he observed. According to him, the business has changed over the last few years. “Earlier, it used to be a two-month long business. Right from Vinayaka Chaturthi till Diwali, sales would go on. Now, it has become a two-week business at Dhobhi Ghat where all the major stalls are set up,” he said.
Raju Jonnada, a wholesale trader who manages Jonnada Balaji & Company with his brother at Ranigunj, came up with a curious reason for the hike in prices. He attributed it to the government ban on child labour! “That was one reason why crackers were cheap. Now that and other factors will definitely add to the cost. Hence, the 20 percent rise,” he reasoned.
He too reiterated that business was not as robust as it was a few years ago. “Kids these days have not much interest in fire crackers due to the internet. Also they are taught at school about protecting environment, and hence the demand from children has come down,” Jonnada opined.
The traders also said that noisy bombs like hydrogen bombs have lost popularity over the last few years . “People prefer crackers which go up into the sky to loud bombs. Shots and flower pots are more or less preferred,” said Bhope. “Even children say no to bombs at times when their parents want to buy!” Jonnada chipped in rather sadly.