/ 2010 / /

Kolkata's Rickshaw Pullers

  • Prize
    Bronze in Photojournalism/Feature Story, Bronze in Photojournalism/Other, Gold in Photojournalism/Feature Story, 1st Place winner in Photojournalism
  • Photographer
    nicolas metraux, Switzerland
  • Studio
  • Website

Kolkata, capital of the Indian state of West Bengal is the last place in the country where rickshaw pullers still operate in the narrow lanes of the "City of Joy". Many of them originate from Bihar, considered to be one of the poorest states in India. Trying to save money for sending home, they live in extremely precarious conditions, sometimes even sleeping on their rickshaw. On a daily income of 150 rupees, a puller has to pay 20 rupees for the rent of his rickshaw.
In 2005 the West Bengal government announced plans to completely ban rickshaws, in order to change the city's image of a colonial past. Besides, on an ethic point of view, many people feel offended by the idea of being pulled by a human being.
Banning them without a real rehabilitation plan would mean that more than 6000 working rickshaw wallahs would face a desperate future.
During the monsoon, they remain often the only ones capable of transporting people and goods in the flooded lanes of the city.