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Lok Sabha election 2019: Auto-rickshaw drivers demand regulation of cab aggregators, increase in fare

PTI     May 11, 2019

Raise in fare, an extension of CNG subsidy and better regulation of cab aggregators are the key demands of the city's auto-rickshaw drivers this election season.

There are nearly over lakh auto-rickshaw drivers in the national capital and they have played a key role in canvassing for political parties --- be it wrapping political banners on the vehicle's rear portion or taking part in rallies and meetings.

In the 2013 and 2015 Assembly polls, auto-rickshaw drivers could be seen across the city canvassing support for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), with a section rooting for it.

Even for the Lok Sabha polls, many of them allowed their vehicles to be used for promotional activities of political parties.

Ram Sanjeevan, a 49-year-old driver from Burari, said the government had promised to revise the fare in April every year but that has not happened.

"If they increase the fare regularly, we would not ask for more money from customers and will take genuine fare as per meter," Sanjeevan said.

He, however, expressed satisfaction with the state government's schools and hospitals and said the AAP government have done good work in these two departments.

Rajender Soni, General Secretary of Delhi Pradesh Auto Rickshaw Sangh, said they have four basic demands -- a subsidy of Rs 20 on CNG, taxis from other states should not take passengers from the national capital, regulating cab aggregators and policy on e-rickshaw that could determine their numbers.

Sunil Gupta (44), a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase-3, said, "We have been affected by App-based taxis. They have taken away bulk of our passengers and the remaining have started opting for e-rickshaws. Earlier, we used to earn around Rs 900 to Rs 1,000 a day and now our earning has shrunk to Rs 400 to Rs 500.

Sunil Kumar (45), another auto-rickshaw driver from Dabri, said the state government had promised auto stands across the national capital but not even a single stand has been built.

An auto-rickshaw driver's income is also linked to other factors, besides the rising cost of CNG.

"Spare parts have become expensive. Earlier, we used to pay Rs 5,000 for insurance which has now risen to Rs 8,000," Kumar said.

Soni claimed the Centre had given them more benefits that the administration in the national capital. "The passing (certification) of new vehicles is now free of cost. Earlier, the authority used to charge around Rs 20,000 for commercial licence but now the Centre has passed an order that no commercial licence is needed for light vehicles like auto-rickshaw," he claimed.

Sanjeevan and Gurcharan Singh, another auto driver, said the state government has weeded out middlemen from the transport authorities. This, they said, have helped them to carry out their work without bribes.

Binod (38), another auto-rickshaw driver, said, "The state government has successfully removed the middlemen from the authorities, but there are many other aspects that need improvement. At least, they have shown the will."

Delhi, having seven parliamentary constituencies, votes on May 12.

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