Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Of Donkeys

I love The National :)

NEW DELHI // Plans to remove all working donkeys from India’s capital in a bid to clean-up the streets ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games have left hundreds of families fearing for their livelihoods.


Across Old Delhi there are an estimated 2,500 donkeys and mules usually carrying bricks to construction sites or removing concrete rubble from demolished buildings. They are led by their owners or labourers employed for the day to tend to the animals.

“MCD officials surveyed the area recently and we have been asked to remove all donkeys and mules and clean up the stables because, they said, they don’t look good in a beautiful city,” said Saleem Mohammed, who keeps two donkeys in the Turkman Gate stables and is the son of 76-year-old Yusuf Mohammed, the union leader.

For Mohammad Nazar, who owns two donkeys and one mule, the eviction cannot work. The 50-year-old believes that as congestion in the old part of the city grows and roads and lanes becomes narrower, construction companies will come to rely more on the donkeys and mules.

“Eighty per cent of construction sites in Old Delhi are not adjacent to bigger roads,” he said. “Inside most of the narrow winding lanes and by-lanes even mini vans cannot enter to bring in the bricks [to a construction site] or take out the rubble. Donkeys and mules cannot be outsmarted by any other mode here.


“As the population is growing, roads and lanes are getting narrower. In this situation I think the utility of the donkeys and mules is in fact increasing in Old Delhi. You don’t need them in well-planned modern parts of the city where most construction sites are connected with wide roads. But you need our animals in Old Delhi, where congestion is higher.”


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