For Immediate Release
10 August 2017
Nikunj Sharma; [email protected]
Shambhavi Tiwari; [email protected]
Cotton Threads Coated With Glass Are Deadly to Animals and Humans, Says Group
New Delhi – Today, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India filed an appeal in the Honourable Supreme Court of India asking that the ban on manja by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) be amended to include glass-coated cotton manja. The petition aims to expand the scope of the NGT order dated 11 July 2017, which rightly placed a complete nationwide ban on the use of synthetic and nylon manja. PETA’s petition seeks a ban on all forms of manja, including cotton threads coated with glass, metal, or any other sharp material.
PETA had previously filed a petition in the NGT in August 2016, and in December, the NGT issued an interim ban on the production, sale, procurement, and import of all forms of manja and allowed kite flying to be done only with a plain cotton thread. However, on 6 July 2017, the NGT diluted its earlier interim order by excluding from the ban the use of cotton thread coated with glass, which it appeared to consider a “degradable” material. However, these glass shards can be deadly for animals and humans and remain intact in the environment for many years – glass bottles take an estimated 1 million years to biodegrade – and may, in fact, never biodegrade. It’s noteworthy that after PETA’s push, in January 2017, the Government of Delhi banned all forms of sharp manja and allowed kite flying to be done only with a plain cotton thread free of any sharp coating.
In 2014, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change issued an advisory to all states and union territories asking them to address threat from manja, and in 2013, the Animal Welfare Board of India wrote to all states and union territories urging them to ban it.
“Glass-coated manja has caused injuries to and the deaths of humans and birds, so it must be banned for public safety and wildlife protection,” says PETA Lead-Public Policy Nikunj Sharma. “The prohibition on the use of synthetic and nylon manja is a life-saving step, but human and animal casualties will continue to occur until all dangerous manja is banned.”
During the case proceedings in the NGT, PETA’s counsel scientifically demonstrated to the court that, except for uncoated plain cotton threads traditionally known as saddi, all threads cause grievous injuries to humans and birds when used in kite flying. The case was also supported by affidavits from several victims who had sustained manja-related injuries and from the family members of those who had been injured or killed by glass-coated manja.
In March 2017, a man in Chennai died after his throat was cut by sharp manja while he was riding a bike. On 15 August 2016, three people – including two 3-year-olds – were killed in Delhi when their throats were slashed by manja. And recently, three people died while riding motorbikes when their throats were cut by manja, including a man in Ghaziabad in July 2016, a man in East Delhi in August 2015, and a 5-year-old boy who was riding with his father in Chennai in 2015.
Thousands of birds are also killed every year when they’re cut or trapped by manja, which can get tangled in trees or on buildings for weeks. The Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir bird hospital in Delhi treated 500 birds who had been injured over just three days of Independence Day celebrations in 2016. 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 by manja and over 100 died from manja-related injuries during Makar Sankranti in Hyderabad in 2015.
PETA’s petition also explained that manja can cause expensive blackouts and electrocute 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 the previous year, the number of power-disrupting incidents on 15 August 2016 nearly doubled, rising from 18 to 33. Several top power companies, such as Reliance Power and Tata Power, have repeatedly issued advisories urging people not to fly kites near electrical establishments. In June 2017, three children were electrocuted and sustained severe burns while flying kites when their manja came into contact with a high-tension power line in Ghaziabad. 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 strings are also destructive to the environment, as they litter the soil and choke drainage lines, sewer systems, and natural waterways.
For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.