Bengaluru: As tension over the Cauvery crisis continues, firework distributors and sellers in Karnataka are worried about sales this season.
With less than five weeks for Diwali, there are hardly any signs of celebrations in the city. Cracker dealers say that apart from the supply of daily essentials which have taken a hit due to the water war, their annual business — of crackers — has been the worst affected. Sources say that usually the cracker industry generates a revenue of `5,000 crore in the state. Besides Bengaluru, the wholesalers also supply crackers to cities such as Tumakuru, Chitradurga and Mysuru.
With most vehicles plying from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu and vice-versa stopping at Attibele, (the border locality of the state), dealers are complaining that trucks loaded with fireworks are stationed right outside the cracker factories.
Sivamadhavan, a dealer from Electronics City, points out, “The biggest cracker manufacturers in South India are based at Sivakasi town. But this year, the demand for Sivakasi crackers has steeply decreased. Although dealers right from Mumbai come to Sivakasi for their stock, this year they too have not placed orders for crackers following tight security at the borders.” ‘80% drop in sales’ While the state police are stopping lorries with Tamil Nadu registration at the border, cost of transportation too have surged, said dealers.
According to Rangavelu, another dealer at Attibele, just before the Cauvery crisis turned violent, sales had picked up, but these were short-lived.
“Until Friday last week, there was movement of vehicles from Karnataka carrying crackers. Now, this has completely stopped and sales have dropped by at least 80 per cent. Dealers from other states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh too are not going to Tamil Nadu,” said Rangavelu.
Traders are upset that usually, a month before the festival, stalls would have come up across the state and the sale of crackers would have earned at least `15 lakh business in the month of September. However, there was no such large-scale earning this year.
No market for Chinese crackers
Amid speculation every year that Chinese crackers have a good market in the state, traders maintain that while Chinese cracker dealers have gained a firm foothold in North India, as it is expensive for them to procure from South India. The dealers say that since Sivakasi is closer to Bengaluru, crackers here are cheap, while transporting Chinese crackers to Karnataka would not really generate much revenue.
Expect big discounts
The dealers also maintained that production at Sivakasi has been high this year. In a bid to empty stocks, crackers will be sold at huge discounts instead of increasing the prices, even though there is limited supply. “In a month’s time the situation may change at the border, but the dealers have already made up their minds to offer huge discounts,” Rangavelu said.
Families tighten budget
With this year’s Diwali coming in the fag end of October, Arun Kumar, a cracker dealer in Nayandahalli, has decided not to buy any new stocks this year and make do with selling previous year’s leftover stocks. He said, “Usually, when Diwali comes at the end of a month, people, don’t spend much. They think twice about going over-budget. So shopkeepers are careful not to invest too much on new stocks. Also, last year, many of our stocks were unsold due to heavy rains. So, a number of stalls in the city are not buying new stock.”