Published: Monday 28 February 1994

-- The state government of Delhi has identified the "real culprit" behind the city's street congestion -- the ubiquitous cycle-rickshaw. Funny, considering that the harmless three-wheeler is the only non-polluting commercial transport vehicle on the streets.

A spokesperson for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the licensing authority for rickshaws, said their number would be slashed drastically to ease traffic flow. The MCD will begin by restricting the number of licences issued and renewed to 50,000 rickshaws annually, compared to upto 80,000 previously. It will also "act sternly" against unlicensed rickshaws -- which, divested of bureaucratese, means destroying them at the MCD yard instead of fining the pullers.

The city's 400,000 rickshaws are concentrated around the Walled City, the railway stations and east Delhi colonies. Residents of these areas point out that once the MCD's scheme gets under way, cycle rickshaws are likely to be replaced by highly-polluting and deafening autorickshaws. Public transport buses may be forced to re-route through inner lanes to accommodate short-distance passengers.

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