With Diwali just round the corner, cracker vendors in Bangalore have set up shop at 35 open grounds across the city. These are temporary stalls set up on the allotment of the Bangalore city police commissioner’s office and are allowed to sell firecrackers till October 21st using their temporary license.

List of grounds designated for sale of crackers – Diwali 2009
(Numbers in brackets are number of shops/licenses awarded for that ground)
1. Deepak playground (15)
2. JP Nagar playground (17)
3. Udayabhanu playground (10)
4. HMT playground (9)
5. Jayanagar Telephone Exchange (18)
6. Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Shankarnag playground (18)
7. Rama mandira playground (28)
8. Malleshwaram playground (35)
9. Akkithimmanahalli playground (13)
10. Kammanahalli Main Road playground (5)
11. NGF playground (4)
12. Hoysala playground (2)
13. JP park playground (8)
14. Chikkalalbagh playground (2)
15. Chennammanakere Achukattu playground (2)
16. Bhashyam circle (1)
17. ACS (2)
18. Anandnagar (5)
19. Varthur Junior College (2)
20. ITI (2)
21. Ashoknagar (7)
22. Whitefield (5)
23. Pottery town playground (4)
24. Jayamahal (4)
25. Police quarters (1)
26. Venkatala (1)
27. Sahakarnagar (5)
28. Chikka Muniyappa garden (2)
29. Wilson Garden playground (13)
30. Mahalakshmi Layout playground (18)
31. Vyalikaval playground (3)
32. NES Compound playground (17)
33. Playground near Vengayyana kere (4)
34. Lions Club (1)
35. Silver Jubilee Park (2)

 

B K Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Administration) says these temporary licenses are issued on the basis of a lottery system. An application form needs to be submitted to the Police Commissioner’s office with a demand draft for Rs 2000 in favour of the fire department and Rs 1000 in favour of the police department. You must also mention the name of the ground where you want to set up a stall. Singh says they also need to submit proof of address and an affidavit along with four passport size photographs.

These application forms are then collected after which they are allotted, by drawing lots, to particular grounds in the city. B R Galagali, Administrative Officer, Bangalore City Police department, says this year the department received more than 5000 application forms, of which only around 430 licenses have been given.

The grounds where these stalls are set up are decided by the BBMP. These grounds are then inspected by the fire department. Says B K Hamppagol, Deputy Director (Technical), Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services, “Our officers will inspect these places. There needs to be an approach road. In a group, there can only be ten stalls. There should be a minimum of 3 metres space between groups. There should be conduit electricity supply. There must be no electricity supply during night time”. (He means after sales time.) Findings from the inspection are then conveyed to the Police Commissioner through a letter, he adds.

Cracker shops with temporary license - conditions

According to Explosives Rule 2008 (Chapter VII - Special Provisions for Possession, Sale and Use of Explosives), temporary shops for possession and sale of fireworks during festivals are subject to the following conditions after they receive their temporary license. These conditions apply to the stalls set up in the designated open grounds.

  • The fireworks shall be kept in a shed made of non-flammable material, which is closed and secured so as to prevent unauthorised persons having access thereto.
  • The sheds for possession and sale of fireworks shall be at a distance of at least three metres from each other and fifty metres from any protected work.
  • The sheds shall not face each other.
  • No oil burning lamps, gas lamps or naked lights shall be used in the shed or within the safety distance of the sheds. Electrical lights, if used, shall be fixed to the wall or ceiling and shall not be suspended by flexible wire. Switches for each shop shall be fixed rigidly to the wall and a master switch shall be provided for each row of sheds.
  • Display of fireworks shall not be allowed within fifty metres of any shed.
  • In one cluster not more than fifty shops shall be permitted.

Shops with ‘permanent’ licenses

Firecrackers are not only sold in these temporary shops. Walk through the areas of Mamulpet, Chickpet and Sultanpet near City Market in Central Bangalore, and you will see a number of shops selling firecrackers all through the year.

diwali fire cracker sellers

Mahesh C Kori, who runs Sri Sivananda Stores in Mamulpet, says he got his license from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

Mahesh C Kori, who runs Sri Sivananda Stores in Mamulpet, says he got his license from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO is the explosives authority of the Government of India) about 20 years ago when he set up the shop. “We get NOC (no-objection certificate) from police department and KEB. Every 5 years we renew it. There are some rules to follow for keeping these crackers, for the electricity supply and all. We got the NOC from police only when we applied in the beginning”, says Kori.

For Karnataka, the Mangalore Sub Circle Office of PESO issues licenses. S M Kulkarni, Controller of Explosives, PESO (Mangalore Sub Circle Office), says “They (those who apply for permanent license) have to meet the Explosive Rules 2008. Our Authority officials will inspect the place”.  PESO comes under the Department of Industrial Police and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.

In sum, there are two authorities that issue cracker shops licenses for Bangalore. For temporary licenses (festivals) the district authority -- the Police Commissioner of Bangalore – issues the licenses. Permanent licenses are issued by PESO.

Speaking to Citizen Matters on permanent licenses, Hamppagol of the State Fire Services says permission should not be given to sell crackers in congested areas and that PESO should consult them before issuing licenses. “Even when they have to renew their license, they don’t need an NOC from the fire department. So because of this they don’t demand. We have communicated to the Explosives Authority several times about this”, he explains.

diwali firecrackers

B K Hamppagol of the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services says permission should not be given to sell crackers in congested areas. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal.

Also, there is no clause under the Explosive Rule 2008 that says vendors must display their licenses in their shops. Kulkarni of PESO seconds this and says shops don’t have to display licenses but the public can ask to see a license copy at the time of purchase. But Hamppagol says shopkeepers should display their licenses. “This way the Explosives Authority, police and BBMP can check”.

Are all permanent shops in Mamulpet and other areas legal then? There appears to be some confusion about the enforcement of permanent licenses. While the Police Department’s Administrative Officer Galagali says “Those shops in Mamulpet are illegal. BBMP, fire department, police department should check”, B K Singh says, “They must be having license. I presume. They will have to follow guidelines. They’ll have a permanent license. They’ll have to get a BBMP NOC, fire department NOC and electricity department NOC”.

Permanent license for a cracker shop – conditions
The Explosives Rule 2008 (Chapter VII (83) Special Provisions for Possession, Sale and Use of Explosives) also states the rules for shops (as opposed to the temporary stalls in open grounds) that sell crackers. “The shop shall be constructed of a brick, stone or concrete and the shop shall be closed and secured so as to prevent unauthorised person from having access thereto. The premises shall have storage area not less than nine square meters and not more than twenty five square meters.
(4) The shop shall —
(a) be located on the ground floor of a building completely separated from other parts of the building by substantial walls having independent entrance and emergency exit from open air and having doors opening outwards, if applicable;
(b) not be situated in the sub-level or basement or mezzanine floor;
(c) not be situated under the upper floor used for the purpose of dwelling;
(d) not be situated under or nearby any staircase or lift;
(e) be accessible for fire fighting; and
(f) have no electrical apparatus or battery or oil lamp or similar equipments capable of producing spark or ignition and all electrical wiring in the shop be fixed and effectively sealed or conduited or mechanically protected; the main switch or circuit breaker be provided at the immediate accessible position outside the premises”.

The rules also go on to state special precautions to be observed for fireworks.
1. Subject to other provisions of this rule, fireworks shall not be placed or kept in a shop window used for display of goods.
2. Fireworks in the shop shall be kept in a spark proof receptacle, or the original outer packet in which they were received if that package is effectively sealed and in good order and condition.
3. A receptacle or package containing fireworks shall be kept in a position away from and clear of shop traffic and to be separated from all articles of a flammable or combustible nature.
4. Where a package containing fireworks is opened for sale, the fireworks shall immediately be placed in a clean, dust free and spark proof receptacle.

Meanwhile, Singh says the police department steps up patrolling during Diwali to check for illegal sale of crackers. If you spot any vendors selling crackers without a license, you can report the same to your nearest police station.