Firecracker traders in Siliguri are apprehensive about whether they will get a good response to the market they are preparing to set up for Kali Puja and Diwali.
As they start building temporary stalls at the Indira Gandhi Maidan near CheckPost for the firecracker market that will be open on 23 October, traders say the sales may not be so good, given the economic slump, which had also hit the market during Durga Puja this year.
The popular ‘Baazi Bazaar’ will remain till 28 October at the Maidan, which will be hosting the market for the second time after the first one in 2014.
There are around 500 traders in Siliguri town associated with the business.
“I have been in the trade for almost 34 years now, and never witnessed such crisis. The turnout of the people was very low during during Durga puja, and the business was below 40 per cent, which had never happened earlier. Apart from the economic slowdown, the bonus row in the tea plantations in the Hills also impacted business, as a significant number of the Hillbased population come down to the plains for shopping during the festive season. We are apprehending the slowdown may impact our business this year,” the president of the Siliguri Fireworks Association, Abhijit Ghosh, said.
The traders said their business in the past years has been good, while some of them expressed discontent at the frequent shifting of the venue for the market.
Traders used to sell firecrackers for Diwali festival at the Bidhan Market and another business centre at Mahabirsthan in Siliguri till 2012.
However, to ensure that the highly flammable crackers do not pose a threat to life and property at crowded places, the Siliguri Metropolitan Police (SMP) banned such sale in the markets located in the heart of the town, while it proposed that the firecrackers be sold at isolated places on the outskirts.
“Last year, the venue was near the Bhaktinagar Police Station and there was satisfactory response from the buyers. At least we made profit, but we had received a lukewarm response and incurred financial losses when the fair was held at Indira Gandhi Maidan in 2014. This year, it will be organised at the same venue, and we are keeping our fingers crossed. There should be a permanent place for setting up such fairs, because the frequent changes also cause inconveniences to the people,” said a trader.
The police held meetings with the traders and informed them about the venue and dates, sources said.
Around 135-140 stalls will be set up on a portion of the ground there.