Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) has turned down a police proposal to fence the entire length of the Parama flyover to keep away kite strings because that would mean an additional weight of 45,000kg on the bridge.
Three motorcyclists have suffered grievous kite string injuries while driving through the Parama flyover in the past week.
The police were supposed to prevent these strings from landing on the bridge. They couldn’t. So, they proposed steel fencing along the entire flyover.
KMDA has shot down the fencing proposal citing the weight it would add to the bridge.
At present, of the 3.75km-long stretch between Park Circus and Silver Spring — which KMDA officials said was the trunk of the flyover — a little less than 1km is fenced with wire held between iron angles.
“The weight of the existing fencing is over 12,000kg. If the entire trunk is fenced, the total additional weight will be more than 45,000kg,” said an engineer.
The additional load will put the structure at risk and so the proposal was turned down, the engineer said. That decision puts the onus to prevent kite string injuries back on the police.
Calcutta High Court had last year instructed the city police to ensure a ban on Chinese kite strings that are allegedly the sharpest and cause the most injuries.
The spate of accidents suggests the police have done little.
“None of the last three kite string accidents on the Parama flyover was because of Chinese manja. Normal kite strings, too, could be very sharp and dangerous. We are trying to stop any type of kite accident,” an officer said.
Joint commissioner (headquarters) Subhankar Sinha Sarkar said as all accidents were happening in the south-east division, the respective divisional deputy commissioner had been asked to look into the matter.
Deputy commissioner (south-east division) Sudeep Sarkar told The Telegraph that raids were being carried out periodically to arrest kite manufacturers in areas around the Parama flyover but it was difficult to stop the entry of kites and spools that are being manufactured in other parts of the city.
Several motorists The Telegraph spoke to felt the police were not doing enough to address the problem.
“The problem is rampant only on this flyover. This means there is a problem in that particular locality. Is it really very difficult to control kite flying in a small pocket of the city?” said Niranjan Mukherjee, a resident of central Kolkata who has to travel through the flyover every day to reach his Salt Lake office on his two-wheeler.
The fence along 1km of the Parama flyover.Sanat Kr Sinha.
The police said they had been carrying out raids in areas adjoining Park Circus, Tiljala, parts of Beckbagan and Topsia to look out for kites and kite-spool manufacturers who use Chinese manja.
They cited figures to show the action they had taken. The police said in the last one week, they had seized 17 kite spools, 70 kites and arrested 25 people for allegedly selling or manufacturing kites using Chinese strings in Tiljala, Topsia, Beniapukur and Karaya, which are located around the Parama flyover.
The high court’s order had instructed the police to ban Chinese manja in the entire city police jurisdiction. But as accidents are reported frequently, it is apparent the police have failed to implement the order in all parts of the city.
Kite strings that are strengthened with a mixture of glass powder, gum and a few chemicals are called Chinese manja.
However, cops said the strings found from accident spots were “not always” Chinese manja.