National Green Tribunal Seeks Response from State Governments Regarding PETA’s Plea to Ban Manja

For Immediate Release:
6 September 2016

Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

Central Government Animal-Welfare Board Informs Tribunal That It Agrees With PETA’s Demand to Ban All Forms of the Sharp Kite-Flying Strings

New Delhi – Today, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, issued a notice to all state governments seeking a response to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India’s petition calling for a nationwide ban on all forms of the sharp kite-flying strings called manja. Also today, counsel for the statutory advisory body Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which operates under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), notified to the tribunal that AWBI is in complete agreement with PETA India’s stand against manja and that all forms of it need to be banned. PETA India filed the petition with NGT in August, which prompted the tribunal to issue notices to the MoEFCC, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of Power seeking their responses. The state governments have been asked to file their replies through their resident commissioners, and the next hearing is scheduled for 20 October 2016.

AWBI’s counsel added that both synthetic/nylon and cotton manja coated with glass or metal are dangerously sharp and deadly. As PETA India warns in its petition, manja poses a lethal threat to humans and animals alike. On 15 August, three people – including two 3-year-olds – were killed in Delhi 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 surrounding Independence Day celebrations. 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. This year, 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 Allahabad, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan and have already issued directives regarding banning the 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, Orissa, 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 AWBI has previously written to all states and union territories urging them to ban it.

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