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The manja used in kite-flying competitions is often coated with adhesive and powdered or finely crushed glass, metal, or other materials to make it sharp. It's deadly for thousands of pigeons, crows, owls, endangered vultures, and other birds, who are often wounded or killed when they become entangled in the strings.
A bird rescuer in Ahmedabad estimates that 2,000 birds are injured in the city every year during Uttarayan and that approximately 500 of them die from their injuries. Sharp manja is hazardous not only for birds but also for humans – including passers-by travelling on open vehicles such as bicycles, motorcycles, or scooters – and is responsible for numerous injuries and deaths of children and adults every year.
In February 2019, a motorcyclist died in the Timarpur area of North Delhi after his neck was slashed by sharp manja. In July, a 3-year-old girl died in South East Delhi after a stray piece of manja cut her uncle's neck, causing the motorcycle they were riding to crash.
Sharp manja also wreaks havoc on power lines. A single power line disruption can affect up to 10,000 people.
In 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (then known as the Ministry of Environment and Forests) issued a notification urging the chief secretaries of all states and union territories to take appropriate action with regard to the use of manja, while the Animal Welfare Board of India – which operates under this ministry – has called for an outright ban on the deadly string.
In 2017, the National Green Tribunal banned the production, storage, sale, and use of nylon or synthetic threads popularly known as "Chinese manja" across India but excluded the cotton threads coated with glass popularly known as "Bareilly ka manja". However, the government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi went a step further and banned the production, storage, sale, and use of all forms of manja – including cotton threads coated with glass, metal, or any other sharp material – making these actions punishable offences under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986. Violators could receive up to five years' imprisonment, a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh, or both. And the Delhi government's notification authorises officers of the ranks of sub-inspector and above to take action against sellers and buyers of the banned string.