In a bid to rehabilitate Victoria Carriage owners, Maharashtra government has come up with a comprehensive policy, which seeks to offer them hawking licenses and monetary compensation. According to a government resolution issued by the home department, as means of compensation to the operators and owners of the horse-drawn buggies, they have been offered hawking licences plus Rs 1 lakh or Rs 3 lakh in compensation, if they do not opt for the license.
The GR has also directed for the horses to be given shelter in Mumbai. “Buggy owners can sell their horses or hand them over to NGOs working for animal welfare, if they find it more feasible,” it states. “Those owning more than one horse cart can avail the compensation in the name of another person designated by them,” it added. The rehabilitation package is likely to cost the government anywhere between Rs 2.21 crore to 6.63 crore depending on the options the horse cart owners choose.
In April 2016, the Supreme Court had dismissed a special leave petition challenging the Bombay High Court’s order which stated that the Victorias must be phased out within a year. Instead, it directed carriage owners to approach the High Court by way of a review petition and directed the Maharashtra government to present its rehabilitation plan for carriage owners and drivers. The Supreme Court had also granted a six-month extension for the implementation of the High Court order, and this timeline ended on October 24 last year.
The state government had constituted a committee under additional chief secretary (Home) and had also formed a cabinet sub-committee to come up with the rehabilitation scheme. The state had initially planned to issue taxi permits by way of compensation to horse cart owners, but some rejected the offer.