Pune: In spite of the ban on manja (kite string) made of nylon or any non-biodegradable synthetic material by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2017, some shops in the city are still selling nylon, synthetic and glass coated manja. The NGT ban came in the wake of the threat the manja poses to humans, birds and animals.
Nikunj Sharma, Head of Public Policy, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) explained how the tradition of flying kites during Makar Sankranti in January also takes the form a competition, in which flyers attempt to cut each other’s kites. “Earlier, only cotton thread was used as manja. Nylon manja came in the market in 2000. People and animals started getting hurt because of its sharpness.”
Sharma said even cotton manja, coated with glass is equally dangerous.
He said, “This week, a 5-year-old girl in Surat and a 30-year-old man in Jaipur died after their throats were slit by cotton glass-coated manja. In August 2017, we appealed in Supreme Court (SC) against NGT as cotton glass-coated manja was not included in the ban. The hearing is scheduled for January 12 in the SC.”
Shopkeepers at a loss
Mansur Bagwan sells kites and manja in Bhori Ali, Raviwar Peth. He said, “We are only selling cotton glass-coated manja but our business has gone down by 70 per cent, as experienced kite fliers purchase only nylon and synthetic manja even if it is sold illegally. Such shops are there in Raviwar Peth and Nana Peth. Only inexperienced kite fliers purchase the cotton glass-coated manja.”
Kite vendor Shriraj Tamboli said people are reluctant to purchase cotton glass-coated manja as it cuts through the palms of the flier. It is also not very strong, often breaking in strong winds.”
Another shopkeeper in the same area, Akbar Kolhapurwala, said, “This year, kites with cartoon characters printed on them are on top of popularity charts. Cartoon kites range from Rs 5 to Rs 10. Cartoon characters like Chhota Bheem, Angry Birds, Motu Patlu, Barbie, Avengers, Doraemon, Panda and Mickey Mouse are popular.”