The rickshaw wallas are synonymous to the city’s daily life and are immortalised in celluloid for years. But those who pull the rickshaws are shunned and neglected. With the introduction of auto rickshaws, the hand pulled rickshaws are on the verge of extinction.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is no longer renewing the license of rickshaws. The erstwhile Left Front government had imposed bans on rickshaws but no rehabilitation packages for the rickshaw pullers were announced.
Rickshaws can be seen in parts of North Kolkata like Shyambazar, Bagbazar in areas surrounding central business district that include Burrabazar, Kalakar Street and its neighbourhood. In Kalighat and Bhowanipore and areas surrounding Park Lane, Elliot Road and its neighbourhood some rickshaws are seen even today.
According to the estimates by the All Bengal Rickshaw Pullers’ Association, around 35,000 people pull rickshaws in the city and earn anything between Rs 150- Rs 200 per day. It may be recalled that
Dominique Lapierre’s famous book City of Joy is based on the life of a rickshaw puller and his wife.
Internationally acclaimed photographer Kounteya Sinha who has returned to his birthplace will honour the rickshaw puller at his show called Stone- being and becoming.
A spokesman for the association said the rickshaw pullers were very happy and many of them would be present at the function.