Hyderabad: Several hundreds of traders, who set up temporary stalls and stocked firecrackers in advance for the Deepavali festival, are now caught in uncertainty after the sudden ban order from the State government on the heels of a direction from the High Court, and then, a two hour window opened by the Supreme Court allowing them to sell crackers.
If they are unable to sell all the stock within two hours, with no place to store the crackers, they will be on the road, they say. All their hopes of making up for the crushing losses during the lockdown are now hanging in balance on those two hours.
“The main problem is storing these crackers if we do not manage to sell them off. Storing them at home will attract severe punishment since they come under the category of explosives. We do not know what to do with these crackers. Already, 50 per cent business was affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ban has pushed us into bigger losses,” laments PP Uday, owner of Prabhu Crackers in Nallakunta.
Several shop owners have termed the ban on the crackers as wrongly timed, or rather one coming in too late. “Setting up the stalls is a week’s effort. We took the licence from the police and the Fire department and then bought stock. Had they indicated that there would be a ban at least a week ago, we would not have bought the stock. Even if we manage to store the stock somewhere, it will be of no use next year,” says Rama Krishna, another stall owner.
As the business returns of selling crackers are high, several people had set up temporary stalls by going in for finance options or by mortgaging gold ornaments. Each owner has bought stock of at least Rs 4 lakh apart from the Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000 towards setting up the stalls. The rent for the places where the stalls were set up is another heavy expense.
“I borrowed money on interest from a friend to set up the stall. All of a sudden, they announced the ban and now I do not know how I am going repay him,” says Nihal, who adds he was hoping that the cracker sales would help him clear his debts incurred during the lockdown.
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