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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Maharashtra: 15 days into the ‘lockdown’, autorickshaw drivers yet to get promised relief of Rs 1500

The delay in payment is being attributed to the inability of the State Transport Department to put in place a system for distribution of the relief amount that each permit holder is eligible to receive.

Written by Vallabh Ozarkar | Mumbai |
May 5, 2021 4:20:50 am
The relief was only for permit holder auto drivers, and taxi drivers were not included in it.

A fortnight after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced an economic package for rickshaw drivers to compensate for the loss of daily wages during the recently enforced lockdown, a bulk of the state’s 7.5 lakh autorickshaw drivers are yet to receive the relief money. The delay in payment is being attributed to the inability of the State Transport Department to put in place a system for distribution of the relief amount that each permit holder is eligible to receive. The Department, presently, does not have the account details of all the permit holders to enable the transfer of the money.

The Maharashtra government had in April announced a Rs 107 crore package for the 7.5 lakh autorickshaw drivers under which each one of them would have got Rs 1500 as a relief. The relief was only for permit holder auto drivers, and taxi drivers were not included in it.

“The relief will be only for the permit holder autorickshaw drivers and for that, their bank account and Aadhaar card details are required, the data pertaining to which the department currently doesn’t have,” sources in the State Transport Department said.

Officials are presently trying to create an online system whereby eligible permit holders can fill up their account and Aadhaar card details online. This system is likely to become functional in the next couple of weeks. Once the permit holder’s details will be provided, they will be linked with their account and after verification, within three days, the money will be deposited, officials said.

Unions have, however, raised questions over the delay in the distribution of relief and stated that many rickshaw drivers across the state are facing hardship due to loss of income.

“Firstly, the amount should have been released immediately so that the drivers would have got some relief during the lockdown. But even after so many days, the money has not come. The amount is also very less and it’s not going to help the drivers recover their losses which they incurred due to the lockdown. The Delhi government has for the second time announced relief of Rs 5000 to all the autos and rickshaw drivers,” Union Leader Shashan Rao said.

Union leader Thampi Kurien said, “Surviving on Rs 1500 is not possible at all. The auto drivers have a lot of expenses, they have to run their houses, pay EMIs and maintain the vehicle. This amount is not sufficient for them to even pay the parking charges in a city like Mumbai for so many days.”

He further said, “The state government had announced the sum of Rs 1500 for 15 days but since they have extended the lockdown now for another 15 days, they should double the relief too… There is also no clarity on whether the Government Resolution in this regard (the announced sum) has been passed or not.”

Avinash Dhakane, State Transport Commissioner, said work on developing the portal is underway. “It will be developed in the next two weeks. We appeal to the auto drivers to link their bank accounts with their Aadhar card so that the process will become easy for them after the portal is started,” he said.

“We are taking all efforts that the process becomes easy for the permit holders,” he added.

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