Plying of rickshaws banned

New Delhi, August 15:

Kolkata plans to ban rickshaw-pulling, a century-old practice that has been prohibited or died off in most of the world, an official said today. Since the end of the 19th century, rickshaw pullers have been plying Kolkata’s narrow lanes - a practice that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya today called “inhuman.” “It is bad for our image,” said Bhattacharya, the top elected official of West Bengal state. Still, the pullers have resisted past attempts to ban their trade, demanding compensation or alternative jobs. There are currently about 20,000 of them in the city of 10 million people. Bhattacharya said the rickshaws will be eliminated in three to four months, giving officials enough time to find other jobs for the pullers, he said.

“We have to think of alternatives for those who pull the rickshaws, and also for those who ride the rickshaws,” he said. A typical 15-minute ride in a human-pulled rickshaw costs 10 rupees. A 15-minute motorised rickshaw ride costs about twice that amount.