Auto drivers worry for their survival as the government’s relief package only covers 28% of drivers in the state.
Bangalore: The second wave has yet again brought the lives of auto drivers to a standstill in Bangalore. They are struggling to make ends meet and claim the government relief package is inadequate.
“This relief package is not enough. We have been highly ignored. The government did not even consult us before announcing. Last year many drivers tried applying through the website but there were so many glitches,” said C.Sampath, President, Adarsha Auto and Taxi Driver’s Union.
Recently, the Yediyurappa government announced a relief package of 63 crores for various sectors keeping in mind the second lockdown. He promised that auto and taxi drivers will receive Rs 3000 cash assistance. However, the package covers only 2.1 lakh drivers of the 7.5 lakh drivers in the city.
In the last lockdown, the government had announced cash assistance of Rs 5000 for 7.75 lakh drivers in Karnataka, however, only 2.9 lakh received it. Some of the auto drivers allege that it took at least two to four months for the money to be transferred to them.
Auto drivers had just started to get back on their feet when the second wave pulled them down again. Many of these drivers do not have appropriate documents to apply for cash assistance. Some have sent their families to villages as they can no longer afford rent, electricity bills, and household expenses.
Even as the markets are open from 6 am to 10 am for essential services these daily wagers are often stopped by the police for ferrying passengers.
“I leave home every day in the morning. Try and get some passengers during the market hours, but the police do not allow them. I sit here all day and go home in the evening. What can I do? The last lockdown we could survive, we had savings, this time nothing,” said Salim Afzal, who’s been an auto driver for 20 years.
The Union President said that the data collected through the Seva Sindhu app was used for planning the relief package, without considering the actual figures of autos running in the city.
Officials from the transport department say there are more than 2.1 lakh, auto drivers, in the state, but the government decided to release only so much money. “Yes there are more than 7 lakh drivers in the city but the relief was announced for only so many. We will try to conduct a meeting with the drivers for registrations and start transferring the cash assistance as soon as possible,” said B.P Umashankar, Admin, Karnataka Transport Department.
Regarding the glitches in registration, he said everything has been fixed now and drivers can apply through the website. The city’s auto drivers worry for their future while the government has provided only selective help.