By Nauman Tasleem (Daily Times)
LAHORE: Around 500,000 families, directly related to the kite flying business, have lost their sources of livelihood because of the ban on Basant, the stakeholders of the kite flying industry told Daily Times on Friday.
The ban is costing them Rs 200 million annually, and at the same time damaging other businesses that are indirectly related to the festival. They said that the people related to the industry, including kite makers, twine (dor) makers, wholesalers and retailers, had lost their means of earning a living.
The cost of the paper used in kite making is estimated at around Rs 90 million and the cost of the twine used for flying kites is estimated at around Rs 40 million. The process of making kites involves around Rs 40 million, said Lahore Kite Flying Association General Secretary Sheikh Muhammad Saleem. “These were taken two years back. Now the number must have jumped,” he said, adding that 500,000 families had suffered because of the ban. “I know a lot of people who have discontinued this business and are now doing labour. Just two years back, Basant was the identity of Lahore and large numbers of people used to come to celebrate the event in the country. People from the US, Europe, the Middle East and other countries thronged the city to celebrate the gala,” he said. “Rooftops of all hotels were booked. From fruit vendors to pan (beetle leaf) sellers, all felt the economic boom,” he said.
Muhammad Siddique, who used to sell kites two years ago in the Walled City, said that he was now working as a labourer. “I never thought that my business could be ruined like this and I would become a labourer,” he said, adding, “We need to accept that we collectively failed to stop the chemical-coated twine that killed so many people.”