Balasore, November 16 (LocalWire): Cycle-rickshaw or paddle-rickshaw that was once part and parcel of the society, and was most sought after as an easy and convenient means of conveyance, is fast fading away from the district and elsewhere in other parts of the state.
The advent of motorised or mechanised three-wheelers or auto-rickshaw has taken toll on the paddle rickshaw, whose number has been dwindling fast as they are considered outdated.
This is evident from the prominent rickshaw stands across the districts which are now almost empty.
The reasons are obvious: auto-rickshaws are faster means of conveyance, and the traditional rickshaw pullers are giving it up because it involves a lot of hard work, pulling three or four persons at a go.
According to an estimate, the number of cycle-rickshaws in Balasore town alone has gone down from over 5,000 to just about 1,500.
Gopal Mukhi of Baincha village under Sadar block is one of those rickshaw pullers who continue to pull rickshaw in Balasore town to eke out a livelihood.
He has been paddling rickshaw for 22 years as badalia, a local term for those who pull rented rickshaw in shifts, but is now planning to quit the profession as there are hardly any passengers, besides his old age factor that is making it difficult for him to continue.
“As badalia I ply the rickshaw during the night shift from 4 pm to 7 am, and I pay the owner Rs 20 after my duty. There is no fixed income.
At times it is Rs 200 and sometimes it is Rs 300. It is a very tiresome job and since the demand for cycle rickshaw has been declining, I am seriously thinking of quitting this job,” Mukhi stated.
“Now our number in the town is about 1,500. Many of the cycle-rickshaw pullers have bought auto-rickshaw and some have quit the work.
The new generation, including our son, is not interested in this profession as it is a tough job,” he said, adding that most of the pullers are badalia and day shift pullers pay Rs 25 to the owner.
“It is a very tough job. Time is changing and one day the paddle rickshaw would perish from the market as nobody is willing to take up this profession.
It is no longer a viable livelihood option either,” another cycle-rickshaw puller Ram Murmu said, adding that he was thinking of working as agriculture labour after quitting the profession.