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Victoria Carriages

Photographer: Divyakant Solanki

 

The Victoria’s Carriages are out from the streets of Mumbai, India, for almost a year now. The once highly popular tourist attraction was banned by the Bombay High Court in June 2015, on the grounds of violation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

 

Horse-drawn carriages were introduced during British Queen Victoria’s reign and then were nothing but the remnant of British rule after independence. These colorful and fancy decorated Victoria’s were used for joyrides for a small distance route at the two iconic landmark, one is the Taj Mahal Palace hotel near Gateway of India, and second is the Trident hotel, near Nariman point.

 

The Bombay High Court ordered the Maharashtra state government to come out with a rehabilitation plan for the people affected because of the ban. Around 800 people directly or indirectly associated with this business as owners, attendants, drivers and stable boys would lose their livelihood after the ban. The ban, effectively, only really came through in the first months of 2016 and by the middle of the year no carriages could be seen on the streets.

 

The state government decided to give hawking licenses to the affected people with 100 thousand INR (1377.88 EURO) to set up the business or 300 thousand INR (4142.77 EURO) as a one-time final settlement. Since the ban, these have been only been a promise, and only now in 2017 is it that the government has indicated to do something about the rehabilitation of the people that worked with the carriages. After the ban, the life of the carriage owners and drivers were highly affected and their income reduced significantly.

 

Around 30-40 horse carriages used to operate daily in Mumbai and a ride cost 150 INR (2 EURO) for a small trip and 300 INR (4 EURO) for a longer trip for four passengers. The Victoria Carriages owners fetched around 2,500 INR (34.5 EURO) to 3,000 INR (41.4 EURO) per day, from which the owner and driver split the amount.