New Delhi: The steep decline in demand for firecrackers is an indication of the soaring prices watering down the spirits of people towards Diwali – the most celebrated festival of Hindus. Majority of the masses have slowly but surely arrived on the conclusion that purchasing firecrackers in nothing but burning a hole in their pocket at a time when inflation, poverty and lack of food resources have shocked the nation. For many the cheaper Chinese crackers have served an option to save themselves from out of their financial budget this Diwali.

A rocket – which brings a smile on the faces on all and sundry can cost up to Rs 750 or even Rs 1,000. A multi colour ‘Anar’ can deprive a person of Rs 300 per piece. Similarly, a pack of ‘Puljhari’ can be purchased in the range of Rs 50 to Rs 100. The ‘patakha-wali-lari’ which can be a collection of 100 to 10,000 firecrackers can be purchased in a large range varying from Rs 50 to Rs 2,500 per set.

A survey by Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) reflects there has been a 40 percent decline in fire cracker demand in the country. ASSOCHAM conducted a surveyed 250 firecracker manufacturers and retailers in different parts of the country including Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Lucknow.

The study said the increase in raw materials and fuel price are expected to increase cracker prices by up to 50 percent in Diwali in comparison to the same period last year. Simultaneously, the survey also revealed that environmental concerns and awareness about health hazards have prompted people to maintain distance from Diwali.

Reflecting faith in the report, Arun Kumar Singh an employee in a private firm said, “Definitely health hazards are a major aspect but firecrackers have been a tradition but celebrations at the cost of exceeding your budget in Diwali for the purpose does not make any sense.” According to Singh, some special efforts are required to ensure that environment and health does not suffer and at the same time the rates of firecrackers do not shoot over the roof.

If sources are to be believed, 151 varieties of Chinese crackers have hit the Indian markets well before the Diwali season. The different types of Chinese crackers include musical crackers, sparklers, guns, spinning crackers and shots have definitely made a dent in the Indian firecracker market.

Chinese crackers have yielded a positive response from the children, and their parents too are delighted to spend less this Diwali.

Deepak Mishra a resident of Indrapuram says, “Purchasing firecrackers is an expensive affair, gone are the days when you could get the desired quantity for spending Rs 100 or Rs 200.” According to Mishra, one has to shell out at least Rs 1,000 to get few firecrackers. “If the firecracker price continues to rise in such manner, soon an average earning Indian will not even think of visiting the Patakha market in future,” he added.

Housewife Runa Basak believes, “Diwali is becoming a more expensive affair with the each passing year.” She added, “Be it sweets, whitewash, lighting, gold or firecrackers, people are forced to spend a massive amount to celebrate the festival.” Basak maintains that though the craze for the festival still remains but soaring prices have definitely dampened the spirit of masses.