An official informed the media that the sum of Rs 108 crore has been allocated to provide Rs 1,500 each as one-time relief amid coronavirus-induced restrictions to 7.20 lakh autorickshaw drivers in Maharashtra. The government notification on this was issued on May 7.
The money will be deposited directly in the accounts of drivers who will have to upload permit, badge, vehicle and Aadhaar card details to be eligible for the relief package, the official informed.
Krishna Yadav, an auto driver from Mumbai’s Kandivali area said, “Government always announces such schemes but they remain in their books. For one and half years due to this lockdown auto drivers suffered a lack of job, ask the government to provide the data of all those rickshaw pullers who have received aids.”
In the wake of lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak, autorickshaw drivers in Maharashtra have not only been hit financially but also psychologically. Though they know the step has been initiated due to a medical emergency, it is hard to make ends meet, they say.
Gopal Yadav, an autorickshaw driver from Kalina Mumbai said, “I have not used my autorickshaw since the day the second lockdown was announced. On a normal day, the day’s earnings would be used for buying important commodities. But now I can only buy them in small amounts. I have two kids and old parents, but don’t have any support from anywhere to take care of family needs, even if I receive this 1500 relief, how can that take care of me?”
Purab Mishra, who receives customers throughout the day normally, says that “It is difficult for him to sit idle at home. “I spend time watching the television or doing some household work,” he says, adding he is already under stress due to his present financial condition. My wife is a maid but she is also out of work.
“I have a loan to refund. But now I have to borrow more money to feed my family,” says Sunder Prajapati from Borivali station. “I need to work hard after the lockdown is lifted completely, then only I will be able to earn enough to pay back the loan,” Prajapati says.
So far, no autorickshaw drivers have received any aid or financial help from the state government, the news is hitting headlines but the ground reality is completely different.