There has been a lukewarm response among small traders to set up temporary shops to sell fireworks ahead of Deepavali, sources said.
The police and fire department officials said the number of applications received from traders was lower this year compared to previous years.
Every year, the police invite applications seeking licences to set up temporary fireworks shops a month ahead of Deepavali.
The applications, with relevant documents, would be processed by the Fire and Rescue Services Department, the police and other authorities.
A senior official in the Fire and Rescue Services Department said the poor response could be an impact of the pandemic, which had affected business.
“Normally, we used to give 1,100-1,200 no-objection certificates (NOCs) every year in the city limits. But this year, we have received 272 applications. Of them, we have issued 69 NOCs and others are in process,” he said.
Last year, over 5,800 licences were issued across the State. Officials said the figure would not touch 4,500 this time; only 3,000 applications had been cleared so far.
M. Sheik Ali, a wholesale dealer of fireworks in Broadway, said, “Normally, by this time, many traders across the city would gather in large numbers to procure crackers to set up temporary shops. But this year, we see fewer buyers. This year, gift boxes of crackers have not been sold so far. Normally, such boxes used to be procured by people who ran Deepavali chit fund schemes. Since many defaulted to pay the chits during the lockdown period, they did not come to us for buying such items.”
The Mega Deepavali Fair on the Island Grounds will commence from Friday.
Sheikh Abdullah, secretary, Chennai Metropolitan City Firecrackers Sellers’ Association, said, “We are reducing the number of shops here due to restrictions imposed on us. Last time, 65 temporary shops were permitted at the fair.”