National Green Tribunal Issues Notice to Central Government Regarding PETA’s Plea to Ban Manja

For Immediate Release:
23 August 2016

Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]
Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]

PETA Filed the Petition to Address Injuries and Deaths to Countless Birds and Humans From Sharp Kite-Flying Strings

New Delhi – The National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued notice to the Central Government today seeking a response to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India’s petition to ban all forms of the sharp kite-flying strings called manja nationwide. PETA India filed the petition with NGT earlier this month, and the next hearing is scheduled for September 6.

As PETA India warns in its petition, manja – which is often coated with glass, metal, or other sharp objects – poses a lethal threat to humans and animals alike. On 15 August, three people – including two 3-year-olds – were killed when their throats were slashed by manja. And recently, three people died when their throats were slashed by manja while riding motorbikes, including a man in Ghaziabad in July 2016, a man in East Delhi in August 2015, and a 5-year-old boy in Chennai, who was riding with his father, in 2015.

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. The bird hospital in Delhi treated 500 birds who were injured in just three days during 15 August celebrations, and it expected the number to reach 1,000. 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.

“Manja is a menace to public safety, posing a life-threatening risk to humans and birds alike, damaging the country’s infrastructure, and hindering essential services such as electricity”, says PETA India Government Affairs Liaison Nikunj Sharma. “PETA India is calling on authorities to make kite-flying enjoyable and safe for everyone by banning manja from the activity and allowing only plain cotton thread.”

The petition also states that manja 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. Delhi power companies also reported that compared to last year, the number of power-tripping incidents on 15 August nearly doubled, from 18 to 33. 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 when 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 it poses to humans, birds, and the environment, the High Courts of Rajasthan, Allahabad, and Jammu and Kashmir have already issued directives to state governments regarding taking steps to banthe use of manja in their respective states. Many other states and district administrations – including Amritsar, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Gujarat, Indore, Karnataka, Maharashtra, the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and Telangana – have also taken steps to ban or restrict the production, sale, stocking, and use of manja. To protect the lives of both humans and 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 it.

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