PETA India has filed a petition today with the National Green Tribunal to ban all forms of the sharp kite-flying strings called manja nationwide. As PETA India warns, manja – which is often coated with glass, metal, or other sharp objects – poses a lethal threat to humans and animals alike. In July 2016, a man died in Ghaziabad after his throat had been slashed by manja while he was riding a motorbike. In August 2015, a man in East Delhi died after his throat had been slit by manja while he was returning home on his motorbike. In 2015, a 5-year-old boy died after his throat had been slashed by manja in Chennai while he was riding with his father on a motorbike.
Thousands of birds are also killed every year when they are cut or trapped by manja, which can get caught on trees or buildings for weeks. A bird rescuer in Ahmedabad estimates that 2,000 birds – including pigeons and endangered species such as vultures – are injured every year during the city’s Uttarayan festival, and 500 of them die from their injuries. According to estimates, more than 300 birds were injured and over 100 died because of manja during Makar Sankranti in Hyderabad in 2015.
These are just a few examples of the death and suffering caused by manja.
Manja also causes expensive blackouts and electrocutes kite flyers. According to Delhi power company BSES, a single incident involving a kite near an electrical establishment can affect up to 10,000 customers. Several top power companies, such as Reliance Power and Tata Power, have time and again issued advisories urging people not to fly kites near electrical establishments. Mukesh Patel was only 13 years old when he sustained burns over 95 per cent of his body after his kite hit a power line in Mumbai.
Manja made of synthetic material such as nylon is also non-biodegradable – it litters the soil and chokes drainage lines, sewer systems, and natural waterways.
Citing the dangers manja poses to humans, birds, and the environment, the High Courts of Rajasthan, Allahabad, Jammu, and Kashmir have already banned the use of manja in their respective states. Many other states and district administrations – including Amritsar, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Gujarat, Indore, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, South West Delhi, and the Gandhi Nagar subdivision of East Delhi – have also taken steps to ban the production, sale, stocking, and use of manja. To protect the lives of both humans and other animals, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already banned manja in the country’s Punjab province.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has also issued an advisory to all states and union territories asking them to address the manja threat, and the Animal Welfare Board of India has written to all states and union territories urging them to ban manja.
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