Cuttack, Nov 12 (LocalWire): The Cuttack district administration has initiated steps to revive the inimitable cycle-rickshaws, the centurie-old transport system in this millennium city, by pressing them into service at Balijatra fair that started today.
While the rickshaw pullers in the city are visibly excited, doubts remain whether the cycle rickshaw will be back on the streets like the good old days.
The non-motorized, emission-free and eco-friendly cycle rickshaws are linked to the day to day life and cultural legacy of the city in the old days.
A glance at Cuttack’s cycle rickshaws
1 The history of cycle rickshaws treading at snail’s pace on the congested streets, lanes and by-lanes date back to the British rule. The rickshaws had emerged as the principal mode of transport in the 1930s, according to old-timers.
2 These were around the city’s roads till the late Nineties. It then steadily disappeared with the advent of three-wheelers, according to Sarat Chandra Senapati, secretary, Cuttack Rickshaw Operators’ Association.
3 Most of those who pulled the rickshaws have now switched over to motorized rickshaws.
4 The migrant people mostly from Andhra Pradesh were in the rickshaw-pullers in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Gradually, local daily wagers took it up as a profession.
5 As per Cuttack Municipal Corporation records, 1,500 cycle rickshaws have been issued licenses to ply on the city’s roads.
6 But the rickshaw operators association thinks otherwise. There are hardly 300 to 400 rickshaws operating mainly near the Badambadi bus terminus, railway station, High Court and Barabati Stadium chowk.
7 In its heyday, the city was home to 6,000 to 7,000 rickshaws, providing bread and butter to the poor.
8 The revival of the sector is no doubt a welcome step but the manually-driven carts will lead to traffic congestion along the narrow roads. The motorized ones are faster and cheaper in terms of fare.
9 The eco-friendly transport could curb vehicular emission but the crux of the problem lies in the fact the Cuttack’s roads are narrow. The rickshaws will take up space and add to traffic chaos, said a town planner, Sambit Mohapatra.
10 The administration introduced ‘Mo Cuttack Balijatra Rickshaw’ to reduce pollution in the mega fair. Non-motorized rickshaws may be introduced once again in specific pockets of the city.