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NGT to test cotton glass-coated manja, asks for samples

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday asked all the state governments and animal rights body People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to bring samples of glass-coated cotton thread, known as ‘manja’, for flying kites to show if it poses a danger to humans, animals and birds.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar sought demonstration of glass-coated cotton thread after a dispute arose between the states and PETA regarding the issue of harm caused by the sharp string.

While the states’ counsel argued that no harm is caused by manja and it can be easily broken into two just by using
hands, the animal rights body’s lawyer contended that the thread is as “lethal as knife” and “cotton thread with glass coating has been designed to cut”.

After hearing the parties, the bench noted that all the states and Centre “support or do not oppose” imposition of ban on nylon thread and nylon coated threads and there is no problem with cotton thread which are wax coated.

“The only dispute to be decided is whether cotton glass-coated thread causes harm to humans, animals and birds,” it
said, adding that, “produce threads on February 6, the next date of hearing and we will conclude the matter”.

The bench had on December 14, 2016, imposed an interim nationwide ban on use of glass-coated ‘manja’ for flying kites as it poses a danger to humans, animals and birds.

It had said the ban order would apply on nylon, Chinese and cotton manja coated with glass and asked Manja Association of India to submit report to Central Pollution Control Board on harmful effects of kite strings.

The direction had come after senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Shadan Farasat, appearing for PETA, had earlier sought a ban, saying that Makar Sankranti festival was approaching and manja would be used for flying kites.

The bench had earlier noted that ‘manja’, string coated with glass and metal powder and used for flying kites, posed a threat to the environment. It had earlier issued notices to all the state governments and sought their response on the plea of PETA on the matter.

In its petition, PETA has contended that ‘manja’ posed a grave threat to humans and animals as every year a number of deaths are caused by it.

“To increase the chances of being able to cut as many kites as possible, kite strings are made deliberately sharp
with churned glass, metals and other materials in order to make them razor sharp to cut through other persons’ kite
strings,” it had said, adding that ‘manja’ posed a huge threat when it comes into contact with live overhead electric wires, leading to grid failure.

PETA had averred that minor children were engaged by the cottage industry for the manufacture of ‘manja’ which caused respiratory problems as they inhaled harmful substances which were extremely detrimental to their health.