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Sans license, rickshaw pullers invading Guwahati

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  27 July 2015 12:00 AM GMT

GMC and Assam police undertaking to High Court still not carried out, many rickshaw-pullers suspected illegal migrants

VITAL STATISTICS

* No of registered rickshaws in Guwahati - 9,131

* No of license holder rickshaw-pullers - 1,762

* Fines collected from defaulting pullers - Rs 5,43,530

By Our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 26: Blame it on the apathy of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation, over 80 per cent of the rickshaw-pullers plying on Guwahati roads do not have valid licenses.

The number of registered rickshaws in the city is 9,131, according to GMC's records of 2014-15 fiscal. However, the number of rickshaw licenses either issued or renewed during the last fiscal was just 1,762.

A rickshaw-puller has to renew his license every year.

It means that even in official records, 7,369 rickshaw-pullers do not have valid license to operate. Sources said that the number of unregistered rickshaws could be much higher.

For registration and renewal of a license, a rickshaw-puller has to produce a police verification report and a voter identity card as proof of citizenship.

Despite being aware of the mismatch, the GMC has done precious little to clamp down on unlicensed rickshaw-pullers, with a sizeable number of them suspected to be illegal Bangladeshi migrants and members of crimil gangs.

On its part, the GMC has raised fines of more than Rs 5.43 lakh in the last fiscal from defaulting rickshaw owners and pullers.

Earlier in November, 2012, the Gauhati High Court had sent notices to the Commissioner of Gauhati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and Assam Police chief in response to a PIL filed by AGP leader Jagadish Bhuyan in which the petitioner complained against improper implementation of GMC byelaws of 1976 in giving licenses to rickshaw-pullers in the city.

In the petition, Bhuyan complained that negligence and apathy on the part of the State government in taking proper steps towards implementing the provisions of GMC byelaws, has facilitated plying of rickshaws in the city by illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

"The information furnished to the petitioner revealed that altogether 16,000 rickshaws were registered with the GMC till 2011-12 and that 5,100 rickshaws were plying in the city without any registration. It was also informed to the petitioner that against the said 21,100 rickshaws plying in the city, there were only 544 licensed rickshaw-pullers," said the petition.

The Gauhati Municipal Corporation (GMC), in its affidavit to the court, had, however, rubbished allegations of any illegal Bangladeshi migrant plying rickshaws in the city.

However, the Director General of Assam Police, has stated that of the 448 license records of rickshaw-pullers collected from the GMC, 89 had been verified to be Indians while the rest were being verified.

The case was, however, disposed off by the court in June last year after the Assam Police and GMC assured to take steps to put in place a mechanism to ensure that there are no violations.

But has anything changed? The GMC may have a better reply.

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