TIRUNELVELI: Children from Palayamkottai and nearby areas seem to enjoy the environment-friendly bullock cart ride to school over going by auto rickshaw. Parents too appear to prefer sending their children by bullock cart rather by autos, even though the bullock ride is very time-consuming.
Beginning at 8 am, the bullock cart picks up students on its way from Kelanaththam to Thimmarajapuram areas, covering the five-kilometre distance to school in Palayamkottai in an hour. Though many students prefer the faster auto rickshaw, these children say they enjoy their bullock cart ride tremendously. They do not mind the time taken. Waiting for the bullock cart along with her two children, Renuka Devi, a parent, said that sending her children by bullock cart was safer than sending them by auto and hence she preferred this age-old mode of transport.
Besides, cry the parents, the autos do not turn up on time. This is another reason parents seem to prefer the bullock cart to send their children in. Said Sankar, a father of two boys, “Bullock cart travel is safe and economical though time-consuming.” Sankar has been sending his two boys to school by bullock cart since the last two years. The charges were Rs. 250 per month per child, he said.
Mayandi, a fourth standard student, Tamilarasai, a fifth standard student, and their friends joyfully declared that they loved going to school in a bullock cart
Cart driver Subbia, from Thiruvananthapuram, said that he has been picking up students to be dropped off at school for the last three years. Before that, he transported goods and even dabbled in agriculture. He carts around 20 students studying in primary school on weekdays. He drives the cart with great care and feels responsible for the children till they are dropped off at home in the evening, after school.
Subbia said that he usually waits in Palayamkottai for school to be over. Even though the fees paid by the parents did not cover his expenses, 62-year-old Subbia said he still enjoyed taking the children to school.