Mysore/Mysuru: The first and second wave of COVID-19 pandemic have ruined the lives of Tongawallas who squarely depend on tourists for their survival as well of their dependents.
Since last year, tourism has hit the rock bottom in Mysuru, one of the main tourist destinations in the country, with months of lockdown, followed by slowdown of economy and fear among people due to Coronavirus. When the economy was about to pickup, the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has once again hit lives of these people who cannot feed their families and the horses.
Tongas are one of the main tourist attractions in city and visitors derive pleasure in going in these old transport, much before the arrival of buses or auto-rickshaws, around the majestic Mysore Palace.
However, with no tourist footfall in city since last two months, the tongas are parked near RMC Private Bus Terminal, KSRTC Mofussil Bus Stand, near People’s Park, near Agrahara Circle and opposite Kukkarahalli Lake.
The Tongawallas are now looking at donors to feed the horses which costs around Rs. 300 to Rs. 400 per day. They have to be given fodder including horse gram, husk and green grass. But, Tongawallas have absolutely no money to feed them daily.
There are around 69 tongas in city. Anticipating good business, some of them have taken loan to buy each horse at Rs. 2.5 lakh and have spent Rs. 2 lakh on the new Tonga. Since they have no income for more than two months, their future looks bleak.
Seventy-year-old Muniraj, who lives along with horses at the tonga stand built opposite Kukkarahalli Lake under NURM project, told Star of Mysore that their life has come to streets with no business in the last two months. During normal days earlier, they were earning some income which was sufficient to feed their families, horses and also for loan repayment.
“We pray the State Government to give us financial assistance at least till the situation comes to normal. Otherwise, our future will be wiped out in this Corona crisis,” he noted.