They have been on Delhi's roads for close to 400 years. But from Sunday onwards, horse-driven carriages (tongas) would no longer be seen on the streets of the Capital.
This mode of transportation has been gradually relegated to just a few routes such as Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazaar, Paharganj, Trans-Yamuna.
On an average, a tonga driver earns Rs 350-400 per day.
Around Rs 150 goes in feeding and maintaining the horse.
It was around four centuries ago that tongas were introduced in the Walled City.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Saturday demolished the oldest and the only stable at Asaf Ali Marg, which gave shelter to most tongas in the city. The civic agency has been trying to take these tongas off roads since the past six months.
"Now that we have removed the stable, tonga drivers will not be allowed to ply in the Walled City. We have rehabilitated the tonga drivers by providing them land at Shastri Park. Action will be taken against anyone spotted driving a tonga in the city," said Krishan Kumar, deputy commissioner of the city zone of MCD.
However, the MCD's move has not gone down well with the tonga drivers. They staged a protest at Jantar Mantar on Saturday against the demolition of the stable.
The licences of the tonga drivers had expired on May 31 and the civic agency had decided not to renew them. The stable was demolished early in the morning will now be converted into a road to ease traffic in the area.
"This will help in decongesting the area. There is no place or demand for these slow-moving, animal-driven vehicles in the city in today's age and time. In addition to this, the animals are subjected to cruelty by their owners. They are made to work or long hours in extreme conditions without proper food," said a senior MCD official.
There were 130 licenced tonga owners in the city, apart from 26 who have been plying without permission from the civic agency. These tongas ply in areas such as Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazaar, Trans-Yamuna areas, near Old Delhi Railway stations, Seetaram bazaar, near Minto Road, Delhi Gate among others.
According to the civic agency, the licenced tonga holders have been given tehbazari or vending sites in Shastri Park under the rehabilitation.
The tonga drivers of Old Delhi had also approached the Delhi high Court seeking a relief from the civic body's decision.
The civic agency had taken the decision to phase out tongas from the city last year.