August 28, 2016 2:04:05 am
DAYS AFTER the Delhi government banned the sale, production and storage of Chinese manjha (kite string), shopkeepers in the capital’s Lal Kuan market complained that the move has hit their business hard. Customers also rued that the alternate cotton thread is heavy on their pockets.
The ban was ordered following the death of two children and a youth who died of injuries caused by the glass-coated thread on Independence Day.
Himanshu Gupta (34), a kite seller at the market, said, “Chinese manjha does not come from China. There are two kinds of threads — plastic and cotton – which are manufactured locally. Plastic or metal-coated thread has become famous as Chinese manjha. While 5,000 metres of a plastic roll cost Rs 100, the price of the same quantity of a cotton roll is Rs 400. After the ban, only cotton rolls are available which hardly have any takers.”
He added, “The ban has come at a bad time. The period spanning Independence Day, Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtami is considered the kite-flying season. It is when we make maximum profit.”
Another kite seller, Mohammad Khalid (50), claimed the ban is not a solution to the problem. “So many accidents take place due to drink driving. Has the government banned liquor? So, why ban manjha? No one buys cotton thread these days. For the last 10 days, we have hardly had any customers. How will we pay salaries to our employees? Instead of banning plastic thread, the authorities should take other measures so that our trade also survives. They can regulate the composition of manjha to reduce its strength and sharpness,” said Khalid.
Questioning the government’s move, Sachin Gupta, vice-president of Kathkargha Laghu Patang Udyog Samiti, said, “Why are all restrictions being imposed on wholesalers and retailers? Why can’t the government crack down on the companies that manufacture the string? They say manjha is being imported from China. Can they show any document to prove that it is actually being imported?”
Another shopkeeper, Jatin Gupta (23), said earlier this week, traders had to give police a written statement that they would not store or sell Chinese manjha.
Like the traders, customers are equally disappointed by the ban. People come to Lal Kuan — Delhi’s oldest and biggest kite market — during this time of the year to buy kites and manjha at pocket-friendly rates.
“I came in search of Chinese manjha but have to return empty-handed. I cannot afford the cotton ones,” said Mohammad Danish (18). He is not the only disgruntled customer. Subhash Dhama (40) and his neighbour Joginder Rajput (25) said they came all the way from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh to purchase the kite string. “We did not find Chinese manjha and finally had to burn a hole in our pocket to buy the cotton variety,” said Dhama.
The most disappointed among them were local kite-flying enthusiasts Rabban Khan (12) and his friend Sharik Ali. With a Rs 100 note in his hand, Rabban browsed through nearly 15 stores. “Kahi nahi mil raha hai Chinese manjha (We cannot find Chinese manjha anywhere),” he said.
Confirming that shopkeepers have stopped selling Chinese manjha and other kinds of glass or metal coated string, DCP (north) Madhur Verma said, “We are keeping a strict vigil so that traders do not store or sell manjha. Till now, we have arrested one shopkeeper from Inderlok for selling Chinese manjha and have booked nearly 15-20 people for using them,” he said.
Verma added, “We are also trying to sensitise people so that they don’t buy Chinese manjha.”
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