Ch. Santakar

KORAPUT: One could recall ‘Magunira Sagada’, the immensely popular and classic Oriya short story by Godavarish Mohapatra whenever one sees the sad condition of Sima Muduli and other rickshaw pullers of Koraput these days. While the story revolves round the pathetic life of Maguni, who was engaged in transporting passengers by bullock cart became unemployed with the introduction of mechanised transportation, these rickshaw pullers of Koraput are clueless after the introduction of auto rickshaws in the town.

For Sima, who carried passengers in the ups and downs of the hilly town for the last many years, it was a day to celebrate on Wednesday for finding a fare after a period of almost one month. There are more than 500 auto rickshaws in the town and finding a fare for the rickshaw is a dream, Sima said. While there were only rickshaws plying in the town till a few years back, the sudden boom in the numbers of auto rickshaws had forced the rickshaw pullers to turn daily labourers in the bus stand or open petty shops selling toffees or fruits.

Getting a move on

However everyone was not so fortunate to shift to another profession so easily as they were not able to do anything else other than pulling a rickshaw, a rickshaw puller, who had turned his rickshaw into a luggage carrier, said. At least eight rickshaws have been changed to luggage carriers. While two rickshaws including that of Sima did not change their structure, they started to carry luggage instead of passengers, he added.

However no one knew for how long they could continue their current profession for the fear of being overtaken by the mechanised luggage carriers in the town, Sima, the modern day’s Maguni said.