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FORPI: Federation of Rickshaw Pullers of India

Federation of Rickshaw Pullers of India fondly known as “FORPI” is more than an ordinary unionization of rickshaw pullers. It’s
a dream, a thought to be free from shackles of poverty and neglect.
The campaign is brainchild of ‘PATH’a noted NGO in the field of social justice through economic and social empowerment.
A recognition of day to day need and subsequent care of the same is primary mandate of this campaign. With the strength
of 40 rickshaw pullers the campaign became vocal on 11th of May 2009.
The work of FORPI is centered around capacity building instead of charity. FORPI believes that a uniform platform for like
minded people with common objectives and issues would enable them to work for the maximum benefit of the target
groups. Also FORPI has firm trust on decentralized decision making which involves all the possible beneficiaries.
In a nutshell mandate of FORPI on the policy front includes:

1. Organizing individual as well as small unions of Rickshaw Pullers of India and create an umbrella for them.
2. Facilitating organised identification for them.
3. Advocacy for their Right to Livelihood and to be a Part of the Society.
4. Creating co-ordination between Policy makers, Enforcement agencies, Municipal bodies and Rickshaw Pullers.
5. Providing them a helpline Number in every city.
6. Evolving a procedure of three layer identification of migrants rickshaw pullers to ensure mutual security.
7. To promote advance and less effort taking rickshaws
8. Arrange day and night shelters for rickshaw pullers with the help of Govt. and Municipal Bodies.
9. To use Micro-Credit as a tool for Economic Empowerment of rickshaw pullers, linking them with financial institutions.
10. To ensure social and financial security.
11. To regularize fares as per distance.
12. To train them for well behaviour and motivate them to charge fare as per the standards.
13. To facilitate them with traffic training and provide with traffic rules along with their certification and license and ensure their
safety with the help of concerned authorities.
14. Facilitate augmentation of their financial resources in order to enable them to return their debts through various creative
15. To introduce ‘Shops on Wheel’ (Chalti – Firti Dukaan) with the help of commercial establishments under Corporate Sociol
16. With the above vision FORPI has taken a step towards mass attempt for the welfare of Rickshaw Pullers and for this FORPI
has relied on the mutual dialogue between the volunteers and office bearers of PATH4India and Rickshaw Pullers at the root
FORPI: Federation of Rickshaw Pullers
of India
 Each and every resident of Delhi uses Rickshaw for their means of transport for the short journeys. "Cycle
rickshaws are now plying in Oxford, London, Paris and Singapore. In Delhi the consumers need them for
transport; the pullers need them as a source of income, Therefore, we need to ponder about the balance
between the chaos get created by the rickshaw pullers, traffic management system but simultaneously
about the unnecessary harassment of them including the licensed rickshaw pullers by the field staffs over
and above flaws of licensing procedures.
 Amongst our several concerns following are those, which required to be looked after immediately:
 Review of the licenses, which have already been issued to the Rickshaw Pullers, because most of the
licenses belong to the middlemen who rent out Rickshaws.
 Issuing the licenses to those rickshaw pullers, who are the citizen of NCT of Delhi for many years and
carry Rickshaws from then onwards.
 Use of the transparent methods for the identification of the Licensed Rickshaw Pullers and issuing them
the Identity Proof, so that the differentiations could be made easily between the Licensed and Unlicensed.
 Regular and proper renewal of the licenses and timely collection of the fee from rickshaw pullers, so that
the illegal bribes could not be collected from them, whereas all amount must go to the treasury of the
Municipal Corporation.
 Develop a dialogue between the Rickshaw Pullers of Delhi and Municipal Corporation of Delhi through
FORPI( Federation of Rikshaw Pullers of India).
 Most importantly Training of Traffic as well as the Certification of licensed Rickshaw Pullers, so that the
chaos on the roads could easily be minimized and a better Eco Friendly Traffic System could be
 Formation of a ‘Core-Committee’ to look after the issues related to the rickshaw pullers with the
representation of Municipal Commission of Delhi (MCD), FORPI (Federation of Rikshaw Pullers of India),
Ministry of Urban Development, Metro Rail Corporation and Delhi Traffic Police.
 Issuing License to those at least who are carrying rickshaw from more than two years, so that their
livelihood does not get affected.
 Assistance of FORPI to the MCD on maintaining strict implementation of not entering rickshaws in the
identified 119 Non Rickshaw Zones of Delhi.
 Locate the appropriate space as Rickshaw Stands in the residential locations.
 Look after their needs empathetically with preference to the no hindrance traffic system.

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Banning cycle-rickshaws in New D
guidelines issued by the NDMC were violative of the
fundamental right

NEW DELHI - The Delhi High Court Wednesday took an exception to the
‘unrealistic approach’ of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in
banning cycle-rickshaws in parts of the capital and slammed it for not
fixing a limit on the number of cars a person can possess.
‘We find the guidelines are unrealistic. Why are you so enthusiastic in
banning cycle-rickshaws? Why don’t you issue guidelines limiting the
number of cars a person can have in the city?’ observed a division
bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna on a
public interest petition.
The NGO submitted that the measure has taken away the livelihood of
poor people.
‘It seems the total number of cars in Delhi is more than the combined
number of cars in three metros - Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata,’ noted
the bench and said that in view of the increasing pollution, people in
several countries, including China and Holland, have adopted bicycles
and cycle-rickshaws as a mode of eco-friendly transport.
A protest rally against the High Court order banning
The High Court bans

the plying of rickshaws in Chandni Chowk.
 CYCLE rickshaw operators in the National Capital
Region are dismayed at the Delhi High Court ruling of rickshaws in the old Delhi
September 6 ordering a complete ban on rickshaw
traffic in Chandni Chowk in old Delhi.
area on the ground that
 The court also barred the issue of new licences to rickshaw-pulling is against
rickshaws and called for a review of the policy that
allows licence to be issued to a rickshaw owner as
opposed to a "rickshaw puller". It said it issued the
directives in the interest of rickshaw pullers. The ruling
human dignity.
marks the culmination of a series of extraordinary
verdicts by the court beginning May 17. The court
objected to the plying of rickshaws in the national
capital on the grounds that rickshaw pulling was
against human dignity and resulted in the exploitation
of poor rickshaw pullers by powerful and influential
"mafias", and that the unregulated plying of rickshaws
caused congestion and inconvenience to the city's
commuters. It directed that all "arterial roads in the
MCD [Municipal Corporation of Delhi] area be strictly
prohibited from plying the cycle rickshaws" and
ordered the MCD to take strict legal action against
 The court's contentions have not gone unchallenged.
Many activists and urban planners are surprised that
an ecologically sensitive, zero-emission, employment-
generating, noise-free, and safe mode of transport has
become the subject of judicial ire. "It is estimated that
the cycle rickshaw saves over one crore motorised
trips in Delhi every day, and over 10 crore trips across
the country," says Nalin Sinha, programme director for
the Initiative for Transportation and Development
Programmes, a transport policy research organisation.
"This has several benefits such as oil conservation, emission reduction and employment." Nalin points out
that the court orders have been passed without providing any detailed studies, cost-benefit analyses or
alternative arrangements. The emphasis on exploitation and mafias suggests ignorance of how cycle
rickshaws and mafias actually operate.
The plying of cycle rickshaws in Delhi is governed by the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Cycle Rickshaw) By-
Laws, 1960. These laws restrict the number of cycle rickshaws in Delhi to 99,000 spread over clearly
demarcated zones and mandate that each rickshaw puller and rickshaw carry a license issued by the MCD.
In the normal case, any individual can own only one rickshaw and cannot hire or sub-let one for plying;
however, special categories such as widows and the disabled can own up to five rickshaws. Thus, the laws
are designed to limit the number of rickshaws and ensure that rickshaw ownership is controlled. The laws
also mandate that any rickshaw operating without a license should be confiscated by the MCD, crushed,
and sold as metal scrap.
Rickshaws are the only vehicles that are subjected to such tight ownership and licensing control. No such
regulations exist for the plying of private vehicles, in spite of these being the primary cause of traffic
congestion in Delhi. The inadequate number of licenses (89,429 have been issued) and the growing
demand for point-to-point connectivity have led many persons to operate illegal or quasi-legal rickshaws.
The latest estimates placed before the court suggest that Delhi has between four and six lakh unlicensed
rickshaws. Most of the rickshaws are owned by rickshaw operators, who lease out the vehicles to licensed
pullers. To call them mafias would be an overstatement.
Shashi Bhushan Sharma, a rickshaw operator in Chandni Chowk, operates a hundred cycle rickshaws from
his rickshaw stand. Bhushan explains that the very nature of the rickshaw sector makes it difficult to
adhere to MCD rules. "The reason why most rickshaw pullers do not own their vehicles is that they
migrate from the villages twice a year. Rickshaw licenses are not transferable, and so it makes little sense
to own a rickshaw outright."
Most rickshaw pullers come during interludes in the farming season, have stable arrangements with
rickshaw operators and rent the vehicles for Rs.20 a day. In return, the rickshaw operator is responsible
for the maintenance of the vehicle, renewal of its license, repair in case of accidents and safe-keeping.
The operators also protect rickshaw pullers from the predatory police force and pay the fines when the
rickshaws are impounded or confiscated. Thus, it would be simplistic to view the relationship between the
rickshaw pullers and operators as purely exploitative.
Rickshaw pullers see the High Court observations on their profession as an affront. Suraj Lal, a rickshaw
puller in Chandni Chowk, admits that rickshaw pulling is hard and tiring work, but points out that there is
no dishonour in working hard for a living. He wonders how hard, honest labour could be considered
demeaning. "After all we are working to feed our children. We are not stealing or cheating."
Geetam Tiwari, Associate Professor at the Transport-Related Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP), IIT,
Delhi, points out that the issue of cycle rickshaws is indicative of the larger neglect of non-motorised
transport. Studies conducted by his department suggest that congestion is caused primarily because of
the differing relative speeds of traffic on Delhi's roads, and can be solved by physically segregating the
different modes of transport.
Thus, physically demarcating lanes for motorised, non-motorised and public transport would reduce
congestion in a far better and cheaper way than expensive flyovers, underpasses and toll-roads. TRIPP is
engaged in a pilot project that aims to build these lane barriers on a 15-km stretch in one of Delhi's
busiest areas and is seeking to expand the project all over Delhi. Tiwari points out that most arterial
roads have enough space for a dedicated bicycle and cycle-rickshaw lane. All that it requires is the vision
to implement it - a vision that is lacking in most government planners.
Delhi Masterplan 2021 claims to lay great emphasis on non-polluting means of transport such as bicycles
and rickshaws and mass transit systems, but fails to provide anything apart from grand declarations. In
contrast to international safety guidelines, the Masterplan envisages arterial roads free of cycle tracks,
while providing separate cycling lanes on local and colony-level streets. Tiwari points out that dedicated
cycle tracks are required primarily on arterial roads, where traffic speeds exceed 30 kilometres per hour,
and dismisses the idea of separate lanes for cycles inside colonies as laughable.
The court rulings seem to take no cognisance of the complexity of the cycle rickshaw issue. The present
ruling on arterial roads will not stop rickshaws from plying these paths - it will only increase police
persecution of rickshaw pullers.
Delhi court bans cycle rickshaws
By John Sudworth, BBC News, Delhi

The cycle rickshaw, the ubiquitous symbol of urban transport in India,

has run into a pot hole.
The authorities in the capital, Delhi blame the three-wheeled taxi-bike for
causing congestion and have decided to ban it from part of the city centre.
But transport campaigners say it's a backwards step.
Many European cities, they argue, are beginning to view the rickshaw as part
of the solution.
Not in Delhi though. Along Chandni Chowk, the bustling main thoroughfare in
the heart of the old city, there are wall-to-wall rickshaws, often riding three

We're poor people, so what else can we do?

Dravida, rickshaw puller

The problem it seems is that they are just too popular.
"The traders along Chandni Chowk went to the High Court and submitted that
the rickshaws cause a lot of traffic problems," says Deep Mathur from the
Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
"They make it very difficult for the fast moving vehicles to pass. They stand in
clusters and create congestion."
Now, as the result of the order from the High Court, they are to be banned
from Chandni Chowk.
Moral basis

The authorities say they will enforce the order and replace the rickshaws with an
environmentally-friendly, battery-powered bus service.
"We're poor people, so what else can we do?" asks one rickshaw-puller, Dravida.
"If we can't do this we will have to turn to crime or return to our villages."
There are an estimated 2,500 rickshaws plying their trade along Chandni Chowk.

Authorities say that the rickshaws congest the busy roads, but "Cycle rickshaws are now
plying in Oxford, London, Paris and Singapore. In Delhi the consumers need them for
transport, the pullers need them as a source of income, what business has the
government to ban them?,
In fact London is considering introducing a system of licensing for cycle rickshaws.
This will give them a form of official status that is making taxi drivers very unhappy.
They also want them banned from the city centre.
"There are some quite steep inclines in central London," says Bob Oddy from the
Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association.
"When the rickshaws are pedalling up hill they leave a line of buses, taxis and other cars
behind them. It seems to me Delhi is doing the right thing," he adds.
"They're moving forward while London is moving backwards."
The authorities in Delhi say there are other areas where the cycle rickshaws are free to
continue working.
But campaigners like Madhu Kishwar say there is a principle at stake.
"A parked car is a dead use of space, but the cycle rickshaw provides service to at least
a hundred people per day, and it gives employment to the puller, the owner, and the
repairman," she says.
"If you don't have any restriction on the number of cars in this city, on what moral basis
can you restrict rickshaws?"
Plethora of Rickshaw Pullers of Delhi
Unofficial estimates indicate that there are nearly five lakh rickshaw-pullers in Delhi, with only ninty nine
thousand having a proper authorization. An investigation into how this operates unravels a nexus of
Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials (including the top brass), Delhi Traffic Police and the ever-
flourishing rickshaw-mafias.

Almost none of the rickshaw-pullers in Delhi are the owners of their rickshaws. They pay a daily rent of Rs
30-40 to the Rickshaw-maaliks (Rickshaw owners). The average income of a day yields about Rs125-150 in
which they have to pay for their rickshaw rent, food, living, children’s education, support their families and
often save up to send back home in the villages. With prices soaring high, it is grossly insufficient to survive.
On top of that, if their luck runs out and they have fallen prey to the MCD officials, the fine imposed is Rs325
if paid within a day of detention, with Rs25 added for each day’s delay. However, the norm is to forcefully
extract bribes of Rs150-200. The 119 roads, which have been declared as no-entry roads for rickshaw-
pullers are being used by the Delhi Traffic Police to the same effect.

Also numerous rickshaw-mafias operate in the city. They own hundreds of rickshaws illegally and in liaison
with the MCD, are a major force in preventing the formation of a rickshaw-pullers’ Union to fight for their
rights. Some, like Rizwaan who runs a richshaw garage at the Asif Ali Road and Biloo who runs one at
Yamuna Bazaar, are believed to own more than 2500 rickshaws. Some empathetic small-scale owners like
Seema didi (as she is fondly called), who runs a tea-stall near the old ‘lohe ka pul’ (iron bridge)near Yamuna
Bazaar are under constant harassment. Seema didi is a member of the Delhi Pradesh Cycle-Rickshaw Thela-
Chaalak Union affiliated to Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) and is fighting a lone battle for the rights of
the rickshaw-pullers. She says, “Out of the 32 rickshaws that I once had, only 9 are left now. The rest were
illegally detained by the MCD at the behest of rickshaw-mafias.” These mafias have also developed a proper
coding technique, in which their rickshaws have a particular symbol, which indicates to the official machinery
that it is a strictly ‘touch me not’.
However, an encouraging sign
was witnessed about a month
back on April 24 and 25 in Karol
Bagh, when several hundred
rickshaw-pullers took out a
procession over their worsening
condition. The Sabzi Mandi was
closed down for a day. Their
demands included regularisation
and open registration of all the
rickshaw-pullers in Delhi,
embarking separate lanes for
rickshaws, life insurance, a social
security scheme and access to
cheaper medical facilities.

So, the next time you call ‘Aye!

Riksha!’ do remember your
childhood memory and do
remember what it has come to