A kite-flying festival was organised in New Town on Sunday to promote the use of cotton strings, which are considered safer for birds and two-wheeler-riders compared with nylon strings and ones laced with manja.
The city has witnessed many accidents, including some fatal, after two-wheeler-riders got entangled with nylon strings of kites, known as Chinese manja, and also manja-laced cotton strings.
Such strings have also claimed the lives of many birds.
Manja, a mixture of glass and glue, helps kites soar but also adds to the string’s sharpness.
The kite-flying festival was organised by the New Town Kolkata Development Authority and the New Town Forum and News.
Debashis Sen, the chairman of the development authority, said the event had been organised because many had taken to kite-flying during the lockdown and to promote safe flying practices.
“We want to ensure that those who are flying kites in New Town know the proper techniques and, most importantly, know that the only way to fly them is by using cotton strings. Nylon ones and manja are a strict no no,” said Sen.
The high court had in July directed cops to strictly enforce the ban on Chinese manja. However, they are still freely available.
Gora Uzir, the vice-president of the Kolkata Kite Association, said one of the reasons why Chinese manja had gained popularity was that it was available at a fraction of the cost of cotton threads.
“A single reel of good quality cotton thread sells for around Rs 1,200. In comparison, one can easily get a reel of Chinese manja at Rs 400-500. None of the experienced flyers and those who compete use these strings,” said Uzir.
According to him, flying kites with Chinese manja is akin to boxing with weighted gloves. The practice is unethical and dangerous.
Ankur Roy Chaudhury, a resident of CE Block and a member of the New Town Forum and News, said they had organised the festival to spread awareness about kite-flying and highlight the fact that it is a fun activity. “We want to popularise flying kites with cotton strings,” said Roy Chaudhury.