End of road for tongas in Delhi
The clickety clack of tongas will be heard no more in the capital. The quaint horse-drawn carriages that outlived the British colonial era and were part of the romance of Delhi`s old quarters have finally made their last journey.
New Delhi: The clickety clack of tongas will be heard no more in the capital. The quaint horse-drawn carriages that outlived the British colonial era and were part of the romance of Delhi`s old quarters have finally made their last journey.
The tongas used to ferry passengers - often as many as six people besides the driver - or carry loads in areas of Old Delhi, but they have been asked by the civic authorities to stop plying by Monday.
Over 250 tongas still ply in Delhi, many of them hired by backpackers as part of their Delhi experience. The decision to phase them out was taken at an Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) standing committee meeting last year on the ground that they add to traffic problems.
The `tongawallahs` or tonga-drivers are not happy with the decision even though many have been provided job options - as vendors or autorickshaw drivers.
Syed Abdullah, who has been a tonga-driver for the past 10 years, told IANS: "The MCD has given tehbazari permits (vending licenses) in east Delhi. But most of us live in Old Delhi areas and shifting goods from there to Shastri Park in the east every day is practically very difficult."
Hamid Ansari, another tonga-driver, said: "The MCD actually promised us full structure with land for tehbazari. But now the authorities are saying land will be allotted without building. Without a proper building how can we do business.
"Moreover, for those who have more than one tonga licence, the MCD has promised 25 percent assistance to buy a CNG-run vehicle. But a new vehicle costs around Rs.4.5 lakh (Rs. 450,000) and the financial help is too little," Ansari said.
The MCD said that concerns of the tonga-drivers can be addressed.
"It`s high time this old form of transport was cleared, as it creates traffic woes in the heavily congested areas," said Vijendar Gupta, former chairman of MCD standing committee.
"There is no reason for the tongawallahs to complain as they are being provided with `tehbazari licence` (vending licence), which will give them alternate income and employment."
"The structure for the business will not be a problem as it can be constructed by the MCD. And if a tongawallah needs more financial assistance to buy a three-wheeler then the MCD can assist him in getting a loan," Gupta said.
An MCD official said: "Of the 132 tongawallahs who hold single licence, 93 have been provided with tehbazari licence. The remaining 39 will also get them soon. Those having more than one licence to ply a tonga will be provided financial assistance to buy a CNG-run goods vehicle."