VELLORE: Intermittent rain and the intensive safety-awareness campaign undertaken, prevented the usual spate of fire-related accidents during Diwali this year in the district. Official sources claimed that only 38 minor burn-injuries were reported across the district in government hospitals.
The fire and rescue department attributed the relatively accident-free celebrations not only to the intermittent rain but also to the intensive campaign undertaken by the department ten days prior to Diwali. Department officials said flyers educating the public on the safe handling of crackers were distributed to schools and the general public with over 100 demonstrations on steps to prevent fire-related accidents were conducted in schools.
The co-optex with targeted sales of `1 crore managed only sales of `85 lakh worth of crackers. An estimated `5 crores worth of crackers was sold on Diwali day by the more than 120 vendors in the district. This year, sales of airborne crackers exceeded crackers that are lit on the ground. Vendors said people preferred sophisticated crackers that burst in the air with sparkling lights rather than those that made much noise on the ground.
Rain also negatively affected sale of jewellery on Diwali day. V S Ramesh Kumar, secretary of the Vellore Town and District Jewellers and Pawn Brokers Association said, ‘it is disappointing that most people who had planned to purchase gold on Diwali day remained indoors because of the rains.’ According to him, sale of gold jewellery on Diwali day was 30 per cent less than last year’s 10 kg of gold sales. A similar trend was witnessed for silverware also.
Sadasivam a resident of Fort City said, ‘the thick cloud of smoke and smog that we witnessed on Wednesday night over the Fort City could be due to the high level of smoke emanating from crackers that burst in the air.’ Sadasivam, whose family has abstained from bursting crackers for the past five years. “Diwali, supposed to be a celebration of light has lost its sheen with more noise and smoke overriding it” he lamented.
Textile, sweetmeat and electronics vendors were, however, able to make gains. A greater variety of textiles and clothing material attracted locals to purchase clothes well ahead of the festival. Online shopping enabled customers to get ‘more designs at a lesser price.’ Sweetmeat shops offering a variety of sweets and delicacies did not lose out. Some households observed ‘vratham’ by offering the traditional ‘Adhirasam’ to friends and well-wishers.
Electronics vendors too gained by being able to offer heavy discounts and ‘combo-offers’ this season. Many households replaced old television sets with LED sets.