Animal rights groups want tongas to stay off Delhi roads


New Delhi : Pointing to incidents of gruesome cruelty to animals, rights groups Wednesday urged the South Delhi Municipal Corporation not to roll back the ban on horse-drawn carriages in the city.

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Animal rights organisations’ representatives and South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) officials met after reports came of the civic body mulling a rollback on the ban on horse-drawn carriages.

“Delhi’s crowded, traffic-filled streets are no place for horse-drawn carriages. It is encouraging to hear that the newly formed SDMC is not considering a proposal to reintroduce the cruel and dangerous carriages,” said Manilal Valliyate, director of veterinary affairs at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In the meeting, PETA and Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) urged the municipal commissioner to maintain the earlier directives of the civic agency and stop any plan to allow horse carriages to operate as tourist attractions in south Delhi.

Back in 2009, the then Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) decided to phase out tongas pulled by horses in the city on considerations of public safety and animal welfare. Later in August last year, the civic agency decided not to allow horse-drawn carriages for tourism purposes.

“In May, it was reported that the SDMC was willing to allow horse carriages again if the Delhi Traffic Police gave their approval for certain tourist destinations,” a FIAPO member said.

The animal rights groups pointed to numerous accidents when the animals have been seriously injured after they were forced to pull carriages. The carriage-pulling animals were forced to haul passengers in sweltering heat and extreme cold while they were frequently denied adequate rest, food and water, the groups said.

“Even tourists would not have appreciated horses being whipped and forced to work on the congested roads of Delhi. The municipal body has assured us that if it is so cruel to horses, then obviously the carriages will not be reintroduced,” said Khushboo Gupta, member of FIAPO.