Hyderabad: Thousands of plastic kites have found their way into Hyderabad this Sankranti, despite a ban on single-use plastic by the Telangana government. Even at the state-sponsored International Kite and Sweet Festival on Tuesday several people were seen flying plastic kites.
While there’s a big profit for sellers, it’s a big loss for the city’s health as these plastic kites take years to disintegrate and would prove fatal for Hyderabad’s soil and water. “Plastic covering the land can stop water from percolating into the soil. This can stop the city’s groundwater levels from rising,” said Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of the Environment Foundation of India. He added: “And if this plastic is burned, it’ll cause severe air pollution.”
They can also endanger birds and animals. “Many kites get entangled on tree canopies. As plastic reflects light almost like a mirror, it can disorient birds and increase the chances of accidents,” said C Srinivasulu, head, Centre for Bio-diversity and Conservation Studies, Osmania University. And the threat of animals ingesting plastic is always there, he added.
“Plastic kites that end up in garbage are eaten by stray animals, causing immense pain or even death in some cases. The government should strictly ban the manufacture and sale of plastic kites in the state,” said Mirza Kareem Baig, member of the Forest and Wildlife Protection Society (FAWPS).
Amid environmental fears, kite traders across Dhoolpet, Gulzar Houz and Dabeerpura said that the sale of plastic ones has consistently increased in the city. This year, 90% of their profits came from selling ‘designer’ plastic kites, priced between Rs 4 and Rs 200. “We reduced our stock of traditional paper kites this year as there is very little demand. Customers prefer plastic kites because they don’t tear easily even on a windy day,” said Mohammad Rahmat, a 30-year-old trader from Dabeerpura.
When asked about plastic kites being allowed inside the state festival, Burra Venkatesham, secretary for youth advancement, tourism and culture said, “There are thousands of people coming to the festival. If we check each one of them, the enthusiasm will be lost. So, we are slowly trying to make them understand that using plastic is not good for anybody. It is more education than enforcement. Maybe they will slowly stop using plastic, if we continue to educate them.”
He added: “We have at least ensured that there is no plastic being used in stalls where sweets are being sold. We have asked participants to use recyclable material.”