Cycle rickshaw pullers stare at bleak future
In the busy arterial roads of the national Capital, the never ending traffic problem is taking a toll on the average commuter’s soul. The increasing number of cars, auto-rickshaws, taxi and battery rickshaws has somewhere neglected an archaic mode of transport, the humble cycle rickshaw.
A mode of transport which was once used extensively for all magnificent occasions is now being neglected. With an ongoing trend of adapting new models of development, it may not be surprising to see battery rickshaws (also called e-rickshaws) being imported in large numbers.
In the wake of modernisation and high mobility demand of the fast-paced world, cycle-rickshaws have somewhere lost their significance. It is struggling to sustain itself as a form of transport, as well as a vehicle to sustain livelihood. Rickshaw pullers are amongst the most vulnerable road-user groups and switching to some other job will not guarantee them a stable source of earning.
Talking about their condition, a rickshaw puller said, “Being poor and illiterate, this is what we can do to earn our living”. A considerable proportion of urban poor in India comprises of people, who are dependent on rickshaws as a major source of livelihood, for themselves and their family members. In the light of their working environment, their future appears quite hazy.
In this scorching heat, it is a task for rickshaw pullers to wander in search of patrons, especially when passengers have an alternate and faster medium to rely on, such as a battery rickshaw. A passenger ignorant about the importance of cycle rickshaws, commented on the condition of cycle rickshaw puller saying, “evil deeds result in hardships and good deeds result in blessings, but destiny seems to be harsh on them”.
Though the middle class residents do not acknowledge the presence of cycle rickshaws, they need to understand its importance, as it provides intra-urban transport and last mile connectivity.
With the advent of battery rickshaws, the regular earning of cycle rickshaw pullers has reduced to half. It is back-breaking for the cycle-rickshaw pullers to cope up with the speed of a battery rickshaw. One should understand that in the busy, chaotic lanes of the city, a cycle rickshaw is a rescue.
Rajendra Ravi, Director at Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (IDS), said: “A cycle-rickshaw is an eco-friendly medium and it helps reduce the level of pollution. Then why not make the best of it”. The only thing that a rickshaw puller would want is a better future for their children, where their little one would grow and have the option to create a better life.