By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi [India], May 19 (ANI): On the first day of lockdown 4.0, approximately 10 percent of auto-rickshaws were seen plying on the roads in the national capital, claims Rajendra Soni, general secretary, Delhi Auto Rickshaw Sangh an organization linked with Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.
According to data, there are about 95,000 auto-rickshaws, 10,000 taxis (black and yellow), 27,000 cabs attached with cab services, and around 70,000 tourist taxis in Delhi.
"After the central government's order, around 10 percent of auto-rickshaws are plying today. However, it all depends on the state government to what extent they allow autorickshaws to operate. We will take all necessary steps regarding sanitization and social distancing," said Soni.
As Centre has extended the nationwide lockdown till May 31 to contain COVID-19 spread, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a detailed set of restrictions and relaxations in the national capital.
According to the Delhi government, not more than one passenger is allowed in auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, and cycle-rickshaws. Also, no movement will be allowed between 7 pm and 7 am except for essential services and in case of an emergency.
Delhi Auto Rickshaw Sangh earlier wrote to Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah and Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari demanding economic packages for auto and taxi drivers.
"Before pandemic, 2.50 lakh auto-rickshaw drivers used to drive 95,000 autos in double shifts but the situation is completely different now. Around 50 percent have gone back to their native places and more are still returning. Few have shifted to other businesses like vegetable selling etc. The situation is grim," he said.
An auto driver from South Delhi's Gautam Nagar, Hukum Chaand (45) said, "Delhi government gave Rs 5,000 to all the auto-rickshaw license holders and it helped us a lot. We will strictly follow all the guidelines while plying on roads and ferrying passengers."
Another auto-rickshaw driver from Laxmi Nagar, Surinder Kumar said, "Delhi government gave us Rs 5,000 but most of us had to pay a hefty amount of Rs 3000-3500 for parking. I only know how I am feeding my children, my old parents, and my wife."
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has extended the validity of fitness, permit (all types), driving license, registration, or any other concerned documents whose extension of validity could or not likely be processed due to lockdown and which have expired since February 1, till June 30.
The auto-rickshaw drivers usually earn between Rs 500 to 800 per day whereas taxi drivers earn Rs 1,000 to 1,500, said Soni. (ANI)