Handcarts, the once ubiquitous wooden structures that were visible in every corner of Mumbai for selling fruits, vegetables or trinkets, is now slowly disappearing from city streets.
A report on the basic transport and communication statistics for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region shows that the number of handcarts in the city have decreased from 16,695 in 2008 to 15,311 in 2009.
The study, which looks at a 37-year span of the city’s traffic situation, shows that the number of handcarts peaked to 18,330 in 2005. However, since then the number has fallen every year.
Between 2009 and 2005 there has been a 16.47% dip in the number of handcarts in the city. As per the study, the Mumbai police have not registered or renewed any handcarts in 2010. All handcarts need to be registered with the traffic department.
Handcarts have been vital in the growth of the island city into a mercantile town. Interestingly, handcarts were so important that in 1815 the police had come out with a special regulation for traffic control of handcarts.
“The emergence of malls and supermarkets has lowered the number of people shopping on the streets. This is one the reason why the number of handcarts has been dwindling,” a government official who took part in the compiling of the report said.
Handcarts have also been held responsible for causing congestion on the city’s narrow roads. The highest number of accidents due to handcarts occurred in 2003 where the police registered 106 cases.