In what it might be called as good news for Mumbaikars, the iconic Victoria carriages will soon be back in the city but without the horses. Confused? Four years after the horse-drawn carriages were banned due to animal cruelty, soon the battery-operated version will be seen in south Mumbai.
According to Mumbai Mirror, the state’s transport department has cleared a proposal to allow battery-operated Victoria carriages to run on the city’s top tourist routes in South Mumbai where the traditional Victoria horse carriages ran for close to a century. The new carriages will be rolled out later this month once the election code of conduct is lifted. The state’s transport department is planning to run 40 battery-operated Victoria carriages in routes near the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Nariman Point, and Girgaum Chowpatty. Before giving a go-ahead to more routes, the transport department will try the routes for six months.
A senior transport department official told the leading daily, “We have cleared the proposal and sent it to the state government for final approval. We will train the drivers of the old Victoria horse carriages. By giving licenses to the old carriage riders, we will also be able to rehabilitate them.” The fare for the rides is yet to be fixed. The battery-operated carriages will run at a maximum speed of 20 km per hour and are ideal for joyrides in tourist spots. The battery-operated carriages will be manufactured by Ubo Ridez and will be fitted with GPS-enabled and fitted with speakers that will give information about Mumbai history.
In June 2015, the Bombay High Court directed the authorities to put a complete stop to carriages driven by horses as they were found to “violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”. In the same order, the High Court directed the state to frame a comprehensive policy to rehabilitate the carriage owners and drivers who would be affected by the ban.