Sunday, September 04, 2005

Cul de sac


Cul de sac
Originally uploaded by gopoo.
During my last visit to Kolkata which was only a few days ago,I felt very sad when I read a newsitem in the Statesman that in another six months handpulled rickshaws will be taken out of Kolkata streets.Having spent my childhood in Kolkata and having used these rickshaws to go to school,I immediately could empathise with the rickshaw pullers whose fate now hangs in the balance.The Goverment has a point when it says that this archaic transportation must go and that rickshawpullers must earn their bread in a more honourable manner.The Govt proposes to train the rickshaw-pullers to acquire new skills for driving aurorickshaws.Easier said than done.Most of the rickshaw-pullers are in their late forties and above and not certainly trainable for acquiring new skills.There are about 45-50000 of them in all and how are they going to earn a livelihood?
The lanes of Kolkata are notorious for their narrow widths and have remained so from the time I travelled on them.In particular, the streets of Shyambazar or Baghbazar in North Kolkata are so narrow that they cannot accomodate modern day cars..Only the rickshaw can negotiate these lanes and bylanes.The rickshaws do not pollute the environment and are an economical means of transport.Many towns and cities have switched over to cycle rickshaws.How many of the rickshawwallahs will drive the cyclerickshaws is anybody's guess.The sight of a handpulled rickshaw will soon become history.

5 comments:

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rums said...

yes, it's sad but i guess they could allow the ricks to ply during the mild cal winters in certain areas. there are many places both in north and south cal that have heritage value, the govt could activate a public-pvt partnership to restore those areas and arrange for heritage rides on hand pulled ricks.

gs said...

i wonder whether such a proposal would take off.in any case, it cannot address the basic existence issue of the poor rickshawallahs.they want to be left to themselves to earn a living their way.

rums said...

maybe not uncle but since the ban is final, there must be some way of rehabilitating the rick pullers and what better way than giving them a stake in tourist development ventures. it would also help save some of the most beautiful parts of that city. everytime i see the decaying old buildings i feel terrible.

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