Among the road users and service providers, rickshaw pullers constitute the most vulnerable and marginalized section. SUM Net India through its Cycle Rickshaw Advocacy Project is endeavoured to not just protect the rights of rickshaw pullers but also to improve their working conditions and quality of life. It is endeavoured to not just ensure equitable livelihood opportunity but also to help the cities understand the potential of human powered rickshaws as a sustainable mode of transport. To this end, a draft Cycle Rickshaw (Protection of Livelihood, Promotion of Sustainable and Eco-friendly mobility) Act has been prepared with the contribution of Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. The project seeks to make this Act more robust, comprehensive and holistic by communicating it to different stakeholders and receiving their suggestions.
Under the leadership of Rajendra Ravi from IDS, Delhi three meetings were conducted in the year 2017. The first one was a Facilitators’ Meeting in Patna held on November 18th. This meeting was held to orient facilitators about the process of conducting a stakeholder discussion for regional meetings that will be conducted in different cities of Bihar and Jharkhand. The meeting was conducted with the guidance of Sanskriti Menon from CEE and Raju Bhise from Mumbai who elaborated on the importance of robust participatory processes in policy making.
This was followed by regional meetings held in cities of Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur on December 3rd and December 17th, respectively. At the centre of these meetings were two fundamental questions: i) What are the challenges of cycle rickshaw as a mode of transport and how can it be improved? ii) How the working conditions and quality of life of cycle rickshaw pullers can be improved?
The meetings were attended by a range of stakeholders such as rickshaw pullers, owners, mechanics, union representatives, government officials as well as experts/mentors such as Raju Bhise (Mumbai), Sanskrit Menon and Amarnath Karan (Pune), Nishant Singh (IIT Delhi). Suggestions were received on various points such as licensing of cycle rickshaws, fare structure, cycle rickshaw zones and exclusive lanes/ networks, parking for cycle rickshaws, social security measures for rickshaw drivers and so on.