THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Diwali, the festival of lights, is right around the corner. Unlike other districts in the state, the festival is celebrated with gaiety in the capital. With just two days remaining, T’Puram Express takes a look at the measures taken by the police to make the festival a safe one and also how the firecracker market is doing on the sales front.
Sales get crackling
When it comes to firecrackers, the city never disappoints the traders. With the citizens already in a festive mood, the firecracker sales are seeing an upward swing. According to a leading firecracker dealer in the city, there has been a good response this year compared to last year. “Business is picking up fast. However, the usual rush is yet to come. We expect the sales to pick up in the last two days ahead of Diwali. However, the hartal which has been declared on Monday will affect the business since we are expecting a lot of business to happen on that particular day,” said Vishnu Ram, owner of ‘Bheeman Firecracker store’ at Sasthamangalam. Musthafa who runs a store at Chalai market had the same opinion. He said, “I have some regular customers. They never fail to come to my shop. However, I am apprehensive of the effect rain, hartal and the GST factor will have on the sales.”
“With the implementation of GST, many traders have shown reluctance to start a firecracker shop. The traders have to pay two taxes and hence are forced to increase the price of the commodities. This doesn’t appeal to the customers. At times, we have to sell the crackers at discount rates and this doesn’t bode well for our business. But, we are expecting a brisk business this year,” Musthafa said.
More cracker items introduced
This year the firecracker market has new varieties which promise to attract more customers to the stall. The item that is in the spotlight this year is ‘Volcano’, which costs around Rs 400. The other varieties are the ‘Peacock’, ‘Revolver toy gun’ and Chinese fireworks. These are available in a wide range of colours and patterns and their prices vary accordingly. However, the rockets, that burst out in various colours are a huge draw. The conventional ‘ola’ and ‘beedi padakkam’ models too are in demands. “Customers prefer to pick and choose items rather buy a gift pack. Usually, gift pack contains all the items. But the customer finds satisfaction in choosing the items,” said Vipin, a salesman at a cracker shop.
The new varieties have been brought from Sivakasi, while the rest are sourced from Kazhakoottam, Nandiyode and Attingal. Customers spend Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 on an average. Gift packets which contain various fireworks in a single package are available for Rs 250 to Rs 2,500. Though sparkler price starts from Rs 30 per packet, there are bigger ones which are rather expensive.
Safety is the motto
The city police have begun identifying firecracker shops which are operating without valid licences. City Police Commissioner P Prakash has instructed all the Station House Officers to keep a tab on the violators. “A drive has been launched. We will book all the shops which are operating without proper licences. Similarly, we will also check whether the shops sell any banned firecrackers,” Prakash said.
Safety precautions to make Diwali safer
Public should buy firecrackers from licensed shops only and not use crackers which create sound above 125 decibel
It has been suggested to avoid bursting crackers near schools, hostels, hospitals, residential areas with senior citizens and crowded places
People have also been asked not to allow children to handle fireworks. They should do so under supervision. They have to strictly follow safety instructions on the fireworks packets
The advisory also asks public to keep a bucket of water, or sand and blanket at hand to douse the fire. Keep a first-aid box ready while bursting firecrackers
Public has been asked to opt for firecrackers that burst into colourful lights rather than those producing noise
Do not wear silk or polyester clothes while using fireworks
Use a candle or a long stick to ignite the fireworks
Aerial fireworks should be exploded in open spaces safe landing zone
Dispose of used crackers etc properly by soaking them in water
Never ignite fireworks while holding them. Put those down, ignite and walk away
Don’t put fireworks in any container and ignite them
In case of emergency, call police control room: 100, Fire force control room: 101 for help.