End of a joy ride

 Pali Hill
End of a joy ride

Mumbai - It's been almost 150 years that Victoria horse carts have been plying the streets of south Mumbai.

The 'Victorias' have starred in Hindi films and have also been a big attraction for tourists visiting south Mumbai, But these elegant horse drawn carriages, often given a gawdy exterior to lure the customer, are soon to become an extinct species.

Victoria riders have been earning their daily bread and butter out of renting them out for joyrides around the Gateway of India and Colaba causeway, but aniwal welfare body PETA is against the use of Victoria rides, as the riders ruthlessly use the mute animals for commercial gain. PETA has now filed a petition in the Mumbai court and has also requested Mumbai Police Commissioner to put an end to this practice.

Mumbai ‘s Victoria Horse Rides Association has been asked to stop and after 2012, there were no new orders issued on the matter, says Dr. Manilal Valliyate, PETA.

Mumbai’s historic Victoria horse carts were given licenses to operate  by Queen Victoria, and since then, the name stuck. The Mumbai High court has ordered that cart owners and drivers be rehabilitated but the order has stayed on paper, say Victoria horse cart owners.

How do we apply for new licenses when our licenses were seized three years ago, they ask. Around 700 riders are currently employed in this profession - most are illiterate. This is the reason rehabilitation is important, says a cart driver Jawahar Thakker,

Commuters agree that the Victoria which has been around for 150 years is a distinctive Mumbai landmark. But the burdened beast needs a thought too, they add. We couldn't agree more.

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