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Bill on rickshaws for panel

Special Correspondent

Buddhadeb firm on removing them from streets

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is determined to remove hand-pulled rickshaws from the streets of Kolkata, though an amendment Bill seeking to "eradicate the inhuman practice," which he placed in the Assembly on Thursday, was referred by Speaker H. A. Halim to a select committee for its opinion.

The Bill — The Calcutta Hackney Carriage (Amendment) Bill, 2006 — was referred to the select committee, as Opposition leaders sought more time to study it, Mr. Bhattacharjee told the media.

"But I will get it done. Nowhere else in the world is such an inhuman mode of transport allowed. The British, who imported the concept from Shanghai to serve their own purposes, introduced it to this city. It is not only a shame [that rickshaws continue to run in the city] but the practice goes against the very grain of our culture," he said.

There are 5,937 licensed rickshaws and 387 licensed pullers, though the number of those unregistered is a lot more, according to the Chief Minister. The Indian Institute of Technology was working on a mode of transport to replace rickshaws and serve as an alternative means of income to the licensed rickshaw-pullers, he said.

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