Sandeep Joshi

High Court directive to disallow plying of cycle rickshaws leaves people in the lurch

Residents, traders urge the court to reconsider the issue Decision is `impractical' and would make life tough for thousands living in the lanes and by-lanes

NEW DELHI: The recent Delhi High Court order asking the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to ban cycle-rickshaws from plying in Chandni Chowk has left residents of the Walled City area a worried lot. Though it might take a few months before the ban is imposed, residents, traders and local leaders feel that the decision is impractical and would make life tough for thousands living in the serpentine lanes and by-lanes of Old Delhi.

The residents urged the court to rethink the issue and sought a clear-cut policy from the civic body on plying of cycle-rickshaw in the city. Though it was the traders of the busy Chandni Chowk market who had filed a plea in the court seeking decongestion of the busy stretch of road between Red Fort and Fatehpuri mosque, a ban on the cycle-rickshaws was not what they had sought for.

"We had been expecting stricter regulation on the number of rickshaw licences being issued by the MCD for the Walled City area. It was due to the mushrooming of illegal rickshaws that the entire area had become congested, adversely affecting our business. The ban will severely affect people living in the area as cycle -rickshaws are the only convenient mode of transport available to those living in congested lanes and by-lanes. Banning is not a solution but restricting the number of rickshaws and regulating their use in the area will certainly help," said a local trader.

The Delhi High Court, while accepting a report of a committee appointed by it to suggest ways for better traffic management in the city, had stated that a complete ban would come into effect after an alternative mass transport system is implemented in the Walled City. For Chandni Chowk, the committee had suggested plying of CNG buses, which the Delhi Government had agreed to implement within the next nine months.

"We welcome introduction of CNG buses in our area as it will not only improve environment but also make commuting easier for people. However, cycle-rickshaw is also an eco-friendly mode of transport and convenient for residents of the Walled City area, particularly for old people, women and children. CNG buses on main road are fine, but in the lanes and by-lanes we need rickshaw," said A.R. Javed, a resident.

The MCD would also soon come out with an elaborate cycle-rickshaw policy with separate provisions for special areas like Chandni Chowk to resolve the issue, Mr. Sharma added.