With Independence Day round the corner, it’s that time of the year when colourful kites take over the Delhi sky, but not without injuries from the manja (string used to fly a kite). No more casualties, it seems.
From kite-sellers in Lal Kuan to kite-flying enthusiasts, the city has welcomed Delhi Government’s recent proposal to ban Chinese manja — a sharp, glass powder-coated, nylon manja capable of causing fatal injuries to humans, birds and animals.
Mohammed Salim of Naeem Kite House says the ban was long overdue. “Apne shauk ke liye kisi aur ki jaan khatre mein kyu dale (Why risk others’ lives to fufill our desires?),” he adds.
Mohammed Salman of Kallu Bhai Patang Vale is happy that Bareilly manja — a handmade, cotton manja — will now be in demand. “Log shuru se wahi lete the, but fir Chinese manje chal pade. Accha hua ban lag gaya (Cotton manjas were a hit, but then Chinese manja came about. Good they’re banned),” he says.
Himanshu Gupta of Bishan Chand and Sons, however, says: “Bareilly manja costs thrice as much (Rs 300-400 for a roll as opposed to Rs 100 for Chinese manja roll). Not everyone can afford it.”
Volunteers and NGOs couldn’t be happier about the proposal. Mohammed Saud of Wildlife Rescue, says, “Nylon threads cause severe injuries to birds as they do not break easily. When nylon manjas get tangled in trees, they remain there for a long time as they do not decompose. When birds get stuck, they can’t break free and die of hunger and injuries.”
Manta Sidhu of Angel Eyes Bird Rescue feels that even if the ban on Chinese manja is implemented, people will continue using it. “Ban manja altogether, as even the cotton saddis are coated with crushed glass. People who are involved in betting don’t care if the manjas cause injuries to birds. The bans are only passed on paper, but not really followed,” she says.
Kite-flying enthusiasts, who organise local events around Independence Day, make their own manjas by coating saddis in glass. So in this scenario, is the ban really effective? Anshu Hafiz, says, “Manje se kisi ka bhi accident ho sakta hai, humara bhi (Anyone can get hurt with the manja, even humans). And because Chinese manja is strong and sharp, the injuries are worse. I’m glad there are plans to ban it, but I don’t know how many will follow it.”