Auto drivers in Pune reduced to penury amidst lockdown
There are one lakh in the city. While a section of the drivers own their autorickshaws, the others drive the autorickshaw and pay the owner a daily fee of Rs 250 per shift for a dayUpdated: Apr 29, 2020 16:51 IST
Autorickshaw drivers in Pune who have been forced to give up their daily income due to lockdown are facing severe financial crisis as they are sitting idle inside their houses. Movement of all vehicles except those engaged in supply of essential services and commodities have been banned by the state government to prevent the spread of Corona virus.
There are one lakh in the city. While a section of the drivers own their autorickshaws, the others drive the autorickshaw and pay the owner a daily fee of Rs 250 per shift for a day.
Pune Rickshaw Panchyat president Nitin Pawar said that the situation is grim for over a lakh auto drivers in the city in absence of daily income. “ Their financial position is precarious and there is a need for strong backing from the government to support this large section of the society which has become unemployed due to the lockdown.”
Amol Gaikwad, an auto driver from Yerawada, said, “I have been sitting idle inside my house with no income. I have to look after my old parents, wife and two kids. The daily expenditures are mounting and it is becoming difficult to survive. Moreover, there is no help coming from either the municipal corporation or the district collector’s office which is making our life difficult.”
Gaikwad who used to earn Rs 300 - 400 per day said that he has to pay the Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) of Rs 4,000 for the auto. “I have defaulted on the last month payment and same will happen for this month. The banks are also harsh and not giving us any reprieve during this crisis ,” he said.
Auto driver Ismail Shaikh , of Kondhwa is a diabetic who has eight members of the family to look after. “ We are in a deep crisis and don’t have any financial backing or assistance from the state government. Since the lockdown is in force, we can’t do any other job except auto driving. I am a diabetic and require daily medicine. Earlier, I used to earn Rs 300 on daily basis and same used to utilise for supporting the household. Now, whatever little I had saved is getting over and situation is not far when we will starve as no help is forthcoming from the government ,” he said.
Khadki auto driver Kisan Gaikwad said “ I don’t have any money left to buy grocery and essentials. My situation has been reduced to that of a beggar due to penury. We dont have any future left if the lockdown continues ,”
Pune Rickshaw Panchyat President Nitin Pawar said that the situation is grim for over a lakh auto drivers in the city in absence of daily income. “ Their financial position is precarious and there is a need for strong backing from the government to support this large section of the society which has become unemployed due to the lockdown.”
He said the Panchayat was doing all it could to provide grocery and other essentials to autodrivers to whatever extent possible. “But still nothing can make up for their daily income. Their future appears to be grim and strong steps of financial help are the need of the hour ,” he said. He further demanded that the government extend cash benefit Rs 8000 per month for three months and ration for three months in the form of state package to the auto drivers. He also added that the government pay three EMI’s of those auto drivers who had bought autos on loan basis.