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One person's life could have been saved and injury to many others caused by the deadly manja could have been avoided during the kite festival if a Good Samaritan was allowed to install a safety net on the overbridges by the municipal corporation.

Figures released by 108 emergency service for the past two days point to the fact: 40 per cent of accidents, including a fatal one, took place on the overbridges.

Seeing the spate of injuries caused by kite threads in the past, Manoj Bhavsar, an AC technician by profession, decided to do something this year.

"I started planning since December 25, checking out the various overbridges. I chose the bridges because majority of the injuries and deaths caused by the manja were reported from the bridges when the riders were climbing or going down," said the 39-year-old Bhavsar, who is also an active volunteer of 108 service.

Bhavsar set about his mission on January 1. He met Deputy Municipal Commissioner I J Patel and submitted an application to tie metal wires at a height of 15-feet, connecting one electric pole to other on both sides of the bridge.

He was called three days later and sent to the South Zone. "On January 4, I met an officer who told me he had received my application, but would grant me permission to set up a safety net over only one overbridge," Bhavsar said.

Bhavsar, who wanted to set up his safety guard on at least four overbridges, including Chimanbhai Patel ovebridge near RTO, Chanakypuri overbridge and Chandlodia overbridge, was granted permission for only the AEC-Sola overbridge, with the condition that he will have to personally remove it before January 20.

On January 5, using 15 kilos of metal wire for which he spent Rs 1,000 from his pocket, Bhavsar went about his job of connecting the electric poles on Sola overbridge in the presence of an AMC engineer. The civic corporation provided a truck with a ladder for the purpose.

"Usually cut-off kites have a long manja attached to them and take lot of time to reach the ground. With the safety guards on the overbridge, the kite-string coming down will be blocked mid-way. This will save riders from getting hurt," he says.

While no injuries or casualties were reported due to manja from the Sola overbridge, other overbridges accounted for most accidents in the past two days, including the death of a scooterist, Haresh Patel, who died on the spot after a manja slit his throat on Chandlodia overbridge on Thursday morning.

Manan Dave, brand manager of 108, said, "Of the total Uttarayan-related emergencies we handled in the past two days, almost 40 per cent cases were reported from the overbridges. It is almost double the number than normal days."

The 108 service reported 196 kite-related cases in past two days, of which 76 were manja injuries, 63 due to fall from terraces and 57 due to accidents caused when entangled by kite thread.

"If the corporation had granted me permission to build nets on other overbridges, probably more lives would have been saved," Bhavsar said.

The AMC, while appreciating his work, cited technical problems in giving the go ahead. I J Patel said, "It is good work and we appreciate it. But there were some technicalities that might have come in his way since permission of the BRTS, AMC and AEC need to be taken. If the idea proves to be worthwhile, we ourselves might take it up from next year."
 
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