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14/06/24 | 10:11 pm

Kolkata: Handheld rickshaw pullers suffer due to intense heat

Amid the heat gripping north India, hand-held rickshaw pullers in Kolkata are bearing the brunt of low passenger turnout as well as the intense heat while engaging in hard physical labour.

While the number of hand-held rickshaws has decreased in recent days, this iconic mode of transport, often criticized for being inhumane and reminiscent of colonial slavery, is still operating in certain pockets of north Kolkata like Bara Bazar, College Square, and Maniktala.

Rickshaw pullers are not only working under intense heat but at times have to wait for hours on the road due to fewer passengers in this intense heat. The rickshaw pullers say that passengers usually prefer to stay indoors in the summer months.

One of the rickshaw pullers, Dinesh Singh, who hails from Bihar, said that he has no option and needs to make a living despite his old age. “We face a lot of problems. I am old, the temperature is soaring, and my children do not support me. What to do? I need to make a living,” Singh told ANI.

When asked about his earnings in the summer months, Singh said that he had earned only Rs 150 till noon and out of that, he spent a significant portion of it on lunch. “I have only earned Rs 150 till now. I had lunch for Rs 50-60. I am from Bihar,” he said, adding that earnings depend on his fate and usually sum up to Rs 200-300 per day.

Speaking about the heatwave in the city, Singh said, “I have no option except to wait for passengers. Sometimes after waiting for an hour, I get one passenger. It all depends on destiny.”

Another rickshaw puller, Pargas Yadav, said that the government does not provide any benefit to them and they are left at the mercy of the mood of the passengers. “I have spent my life pulling this hand rickshaw for the last 32 years. It is very disappointing that we don’t get any benefit from the government. We totally depend on the passenger’s mood. At times they pay extra for our service,” Yadav said.

The Regional Meteorological Department in Kolkata has offered no news of respite from the already brewing heatwave in south Bengal. The Met office has predicted heatwave conditions to continue in districts like Purulia, West Burdwan, Bankura, West Midnapur, and Jhargram in West Bengal till Saturday.

While an orange alert has been issued at a few places over Purulia on Friday, a yellow alert has been issued for one or two places in West Burdwan, Bankura, West Midnapur, and Jhargram.

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Last Updated: 13th Jul 2024