Berhampur: The traders of exclusive firecracker market at Nilakantheswar in the city face an uncertain future as they do not see reopening of the complex in near future.
The Ganjam district administration had closed down the market complex on Andhapasara Road for lack of adequate fire-safety and security measures in 2019. In the following year, the traders could not make any business due to restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID pandemic. Their hope of reopening was sealed after a petrol pump came up near the firecracker market.
The cracker traders of the district had purchased a piece of land on individual basis in 1996 and opened their shops in the Nilakantha Nagar complex under the banner Sri Sri Balunkeswar Fireworks Traders Association in 1998.
“We used to open cracker shops from the Bijaya Dasami Day to Diwali every year and do good business. People from across the district and outside used to come here for buying crackers,” said Inku Gouda, president of the fireworks traders association.
While the district administration is not satisfied with the fire-fighting measures, the traders are not in favour of shifting to any other place as they consider it the safest place.
“We are taking all possible steps to prevent fire mishaps. But permission to open a petrol pump near the 25-year-old cracker market has pushed us to a corner,” said Gouda.
Meanwhile, four wholesalers of Nilakantheswar market have opened their shops at a private land at Dengapadar, 10 km from Berhampur. They have purchased one acre of land for the purpose and started construction of the cracker complex with isolated shops and wide entry and exit gates as per the government guidelines. “We have already availed licence for the cracker trade for five years to start our business at Dengapadar,” said S Deepak Kumar, a trader.
The Nilakantheswar complex witnessed a major fire mishap on August 29, 2010 when a woman was charred to death and seven sustained burn injuries. Of 80 shops in the market, 8 were completely damaged. The impact of the explosion was so forceful that 10 fire tenders took four hours to bring the inferno under control.