No patakha stalls at clutter bazaar

In a rather late - and arguably perfunctory - exercise, the Ranchi district administration has imposed a ban on temporary firecracker shops in densely populated Upper Bazaar, earmarking Harmu and Morabadi grounds as venues for provisional stalls in the run-up to Diwali.

By Our Correspondent
  • Published 14.10.17
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A cracker stall at Upper Bazaar in Ranchi last year

In a rather late - and arguably perfunctory - exercise, the Ranchi district administration has imposed a ban on temporary firecracker shops in densely populated Upper Bazaar, earmarking Harmu and Morabadi grounds as venues for provisional stalls in the run-up to Diwali.

District arms officer and nazarat deputy commissioner Rajesh Kumar Singh on Friday said the objective of the order was to ease further clutter in the congested market area, where a spark can trigger an inferno in the absence of adequate access for fire tenders.

"No makeshift shops will be allowed in Upper Bazaar. The ban will sure remain in force till Diwali on October 19 and may be extended up to Chhath the week after," he said.

Asked why permanent firecracker shops were being spared when there always was a looming risk of fire, Singh said wholesalers would be evicted, but in a phased manner. He did not commit on a deadline.

Upper Bazaar in Kotwali thana area of the capital is a maze of residential and commercial establishments, with more than 10,000 shops and a population of 50,000-plus. The daily footfall is no less than a lakh, which almost doubles during the festive season.

The district administration's internal report, submitted in the first week of June, mentions that among the 50-odd cracker wholesalers, barely 15 have valid permits.

During Diwali, over a 1,000 temporary - and hence, unlicensed - shops mushroom in addition to these 50. The Telegraph had, on October 5, reported how these shops are patronised by the cracker cartel.

On arrangements to be made at Harmu and Morabadi, Singh said police teams led by a magistrate each would be deployed at the grounds while fire tenders would be on standby.

"Provisional licences will be needed at the venues. Without permit no one will be allowed to sell firecrackers anywhere for that matter. Enforcement teams will be constituted for round-the-clock monitoring of Upper Bazaar," the arms officer said.

Singh added that they had begun the licensing process from Friday, but none had applied yet. "One has to give an application, along with ID, specifying stocks they want to keep and sell. A temporary permit will be issued for a nominal fee."

Small shopkeepers decried the decision.

"Wealthy traders have been kept outside the purview of this order even though they stock firecrackers in their godowns in the heart of the Bazaar. Since the authorities are unable to force them to follow rules, they decided to tighten the noose around us, small-time traders," said one Umesh Kumar.