What’s the point of placing a ban on sale of crackers in Delhi-NCR when they’re available to buy online? The sale of crackers has been kept on hold by the SC till after the Diwali season, 1 November, to study the impact of crackers on the capital’s pollution levels.
The Quint looked at a list of websites that deliver crackers in Delhi-NCR and called the website owners to ascertain if sale was happening.
This is what we found out.
Of 6 Websites, Only 3 Sell Crackers in Delhi-NCR
The six websites we looked at are, onlinecrackers.com, patakewala.com, magiccrackers.com, cockbrand.in, Ayyan Fireworks and crackersindia.com.
Of these, the last three delivered only to the states in the south, not to the north of India while the first three accepted a Delhi address. So we looked deeper into the first three.
1. Continuing to Take Orders Online, Hoping For Relief
At onlinecrackers.com, we placed an order of eight bijli bombs, four comets and two packets of flower pots. Why so many in the cart, you may ask? Because the minimum purchase amount for online delivery is Rs 3,000.
We were able to place an order with the cash-on-delivery (COD) option. On an order of Rs 3,000, a Rs 100 delivery charge was levied, we even got an email from the website confirming our order.
When we called the owner of the website, Aman, to ask if they were delivering in spite of the SC ban, he said business was not working due to the SC ban and everyone was suffering major losses. We can’t sell from our shop or online, he said.
When we said The Quint had placed an order on the website that was accepted by them, he said:
We can’t close the website down, it’s been there for three years. You only tell us what should we do? We’re hoping for relief after 1 November. We are taking orders but not delivering to anyone yet. As of now, if people call and decline orders, it’s okay, but we are not cancelling orders from our side.
2. Only COD Orders Are Getting Canned, Chandigarh Delivers For the Rest
Similarly for the second website, patakewala.com, which also has a minimum purchase of Rs 3,000, we bought six parrot crackers and three ladis for a total of Rs 4,080.
We chose the option of the ‘Direct Bank Transfer’ and called the number on the website to ensure that it was safe to make the transfer.
After repeated attempts, we finally got through to Sanjeev, the owner of Patakewala. Sanjeev kept saying we should go ahead and make the payment without worry.
After the SC ban, only cash-on-delivery orders are being cancelled. You can easily make a direct transfer into the account. The crackers will reach you by Friday. The delivery will happen from Chandigarh and not from within NCR. There will be no trouble at all.
3. Not Taking Orders Online After SC Ban
The third website is Magic Crackers that works out of the URL fireworksindelhi.in. The words ‘Free Home Delivery’ stand out in bold yellow, inviting anybody looking for ways to get their hands on crackers this year.
The website states they only take cash on delivery. Why?
They say it is about building trust, an easier payment model and quality improvement for the company.
The minimum purchase on this is Rs 3,000, like the other two. We bought eight pencils and eight sky shots (called ‘World War 1’) for Rs 3,760.
Right after clicking ‘Proceed to Checkout’, the following image appears on the screen. We didn’t get a confirmation message on our number or an email confirming the order, though.
When we spoke to the co-owner of MagicCrackers, Imran Khan, he said he isn’t selling from his godown or online this Diwali season. “The SC ban has kept us from selling online or to people otherwise. Of course business is getting affected but we aren’t selling.”
So while there seem to be people who are following the law, cracker suppliers have already found ways to reduce their losses and your noisy neighbour is getting his hands on all the crackers he needs.
But It’s Not Just Delhi
While the pollution in the capital is especially alarming, other metros in the country have also shown harmful pollution levels. Sometimes even higher than in the capital.
Between 27 February 2017 and 13 March 2017, Delhi did not witness a single high pollution day. However in Mumbai, pollution levels were way above the permissible limits, according to a study by the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
Similarly, according to this report in The Hindu in April 2016, Bengaluru’s BTM Layout area has had worse air quality than three monitoring stations in Delhi for which data was available.
PM 2.5 is what is used as the best indicator for pollution levels in the city. In Allandur in Chennai, currently the PM 2.5 is 217, which is categorised as ‘very unhealthy’.
If the cracker ban experiment in Delhi bears results, other metros should be next in the top court’s sights.