Tongas to go off Delhi’s roads for good

New Delhi, Nov 19 ( Tongas and other horse-driven vehicles that have for centuries clip-clopped on the streets of the national capital, especially in the walled city, will be completely taken off the streets, civic authority officials said Thursday.

“The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will soon bring out the rehabilitation plan for the tonga owners,” a senior vetinary department official said.

The decision to phase out the tongas was taken at an MCD standing meeting in September this year.

Janak Digal, additional municipal commissioner, veterinary department, has written to municipal commissioner K.S. Mehra about the proposal to provide tehbazari or vending licences to the 230 licensed carriage owners to give them alternate income and employment.

Under the scheme, 170 horse-cart owners, holding single licences in their names, will be provided 6 feet by 4 feet vending sites. Non licensed owners will be provided a fourth of financial assistance required for them to buy CNG-run goods carriages.

The move the MCD says will help ease traffic woes in the heavily congested area and also prevent cruelty to animals.

“The horse tonga has been an important mode of transport in olden times in the city of Delhi. However, with the (newer) modes of local transport like rickshaws (cycle), autorickshaws, battery and CNG operated buses, these new transport vehicles have taken over as popular modes of local transport in the walled city as well as other congested areas of Delhi….practically there is no place and demand for these slow-moving animal driven vehicles,” Digal noted in the letter.

Tongas, driven by horses, mules or ponies, are used for ferrying passengers on certain walled city roads but mainly for carrying load in Sadar Bazar and Chandni Chowk areas of old Delhi.

Till six months ago, the civic agency was mulling over a proposal for special rides on tongas at tourist spots like India Gate, but officials say the plan “never went through.”