Tongas plying near India-Nepal border to be thing of past
For the last 60 years, tongas have been plying on a 15km stretch between Banbasa in Uttarakhand and Nepal’s Mahendra Nagar. In fact, these carriages are still the only means of transport for the Nepalese citizens to reach Bambasa and to return homedehradun Updated: Nov 10, 2017 20:24 IST
RUDRAPUR: Come December 15, ‘tongas’ will be taken off the road in this part of Uttarakhand along the India-Nepal border. The Indian administration has decided to stop the horse-drawn carriages, citing provisions of the Prevention to Cruelty of Animals Act.
According to local officials, the decision was unanimous and tonga owners, who attended the meeting at Banbasa earlier this week, were told about the provisions of the Act. Tonga owners found violating the order could be booked, or fined, or both under the Act, the officials said.
Banbasa sub divisional magistrate Anil Chamiyal told HT that many tonga owners were based in India. “From December 15, only Tuk-Tuk, Tata Magic and other three-wheelers will be permitted on the road connecting Banbasa and Mahendra Nagar to ferry passengers from both sides,” he said.
Sagir Ahmad — one among the 60-odd tonga owners — is worried about the future. Although the tonga union has agreed on shutting down the service, people like Sagir has requested the administration to find a middle path. “Most of the tonga owners are going to be jobless. The administration must reconsider the decision since tonga is the only source of income for many like us,” he pleaded.
For the last 60 years, tongas have been plying on a 15km stretch between Banbasa in Uttarakhand and Nepal’s Mahendra Nagar. In fact, these carriages are still the only means of transport for the Nepalese citizens to reach Bambasa and to return home.
The road connecting to India and Nepal passes through the Sharda barrage which was constructed to store water of the Sharda river to generate hydroelectricity. Later, the barrage was opened for the public to cross the India-Nepal border and it became one the 19 notified entry points.
Namraj Dharmanand Joshi, a Nepalese citizen settled in Mumbai, recalled in his Facebook post about the experience he had while riding a tonga between Banbasa and Mahendra Nagar.
But some have welcomed the move. Vinod Kala, a resident of Banbasa, averred that tonga owners ply overloaded carriages to earn extra money. “The owners hardly care about the animal, and I think the administration has taken the right decision by putting a tab on their monopoly,” he said.