PETA says Maharashtra’s ban on manja not well implemented, all except Chinese manja were used
PETA members said there was an immediate need for the state government to reach out to citizens to inform them about the decision and tell them to only fly kites with plain cotton threads this year.
A day after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) passed an interim order banning the nationwide use of manja (sharp kite thread), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said while Maharashtra government levied a similar ban in April 2015, apart from the Chinese thread manja, all others were used through the year and especially during Makar Sankranti this year.
In April 2015, the state government had banned the sale and use of these sharp kite strings through a circular under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, signed by the state environment department, which was submitted to the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court on April 20 in response to a petition filed by a local resident seeking a ban on sharp kite strings. The state only allowed the use of plain cotton thread to fly kites.
PETA members said there was an immediate need for the state government to reach out to citizens to inform them about the decision and tell them to only fly kites with plain cotton threads this year. “The use of nylon, synthetic, cotton thread coated with glass manjas were all used through the year across Maharashtra, especially during Makar Sankranti, 2016,” said Nikunj Sharma, PETA Government Affairs Liaison. “Through this landmark interim order, NGT has made it safer for birds in the country.”
On Wednesday, a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, chair of the NGT Delhi, passed the interim order banning procurement, stocking and sale of manja made of nylon thread, which is also called Chinese dor or other sharp, synthetic materials such as cotton thread coated with glass until the next hearing, scheduled on February 1, 2017. The move was aimed at providing safety to birds and humans a month before Makar Sankranti (January 14, 2017), a festival during which there are many bird and human deaths caused by manja.
Sharma added that the state government needs to form a committee that will collate data on the number of bird deaths due to this thread. “The information needs to be made public as there are only a handful of NGOs that rescue and release injured birds and people don’t realise the damage caused to the avian species,” he said.
Some environmentalists said that it was people’s responsibility to use these threads for enjoyment during festivals rather than making it a competitive sport. “There are numerous instances when stray threads end up choking bikers and pedestrians because of how sharp they are,” said Stalin Dayanand, project director, Vanashakti. “Simple cotton threads are easily available and are not that sharp.”
Others said that the failure of such orders have been from its implementation. “While the order is still interim and we need to wait for the final one, it is the government’s responsibility to share such a notification widely through newspapers, television ads etc. so that even the remotest parts of the state are aware,” said Anand Pendharkar, environmentalist.
“We had taken all steps last year to ban the use of manja across the state. However we need to examine the NGT order and compare the same with ours, and if there is any shortfall, we will make sure that the message reaches the public,” said Satish Gavai, principal secretary, state environment department.