Bareilly is word-famous for manufacturing cotton strings for kite flying and also known as the ‘manja city’. In fact, it is an over 200-year-old traditional business for many there. With the arrival of Chinese manja made of fine nylon in 2011, the industry began to shrink rapidly.
The Delhi government’s decision to ban Chinese manja has come as welcome news for many who now see a ray of hope in Delhi, once a major buyer of cotton manja.
This, as the Aam Aadmi Party government told the Delhi High Court that it has decided to ban the nylon string, colloquially called Chinese manja, due to a number of fatal accidents. Chinese manja is not from imported from China, but made by two-three companies in Bengaluru and Noida.
Chinese manja dented the cotton manja market in just five to six years. The Bareilly-made string is no longer sold as much anymore. There is a difference of at least Rs.700 between the two. While 12 reels of cotton manja cost about Rs.1,100 and above depending on the quality, 12 reels of Chinese manja cost just about Rs.300.
Chinese manja is much cheaper and does not break easily as it is made of nylon. It is actually the type of string used in fishing. The string is coated with chemicals to make it tougher and sharper so that it does not break easily. That is why all those freak accidents — including the one of the biker whose throat got slit — are caused by nylon manja.
Sunil Gupta, a member of the city’s oldest kite flying club, The Union Kite Club, said that the use of Chinese manja is banned in every kite-flying competition across India. All competitors use cotton strings made in Bareilly.