Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, May 21
About 45,000 taxi operators in Himachal are facing a grim future. The taxi operators in Himachal most of whom are unemployed youth of the state are almost without work for the past about two months since the lockdown was imposed in country due to coronavirus.
Prem Kumar who has an Innova vehicle as taxi in Dharamsala while talking to The Tribune said the Himachal government as a policy had provided taxi number plates to unemployed youth.
They took loans from banks and were earning their livelihood from taxi vehicles they had purchased. About 90 per cent of the taxi business in Himachal was dependent on tourism. It has come to a total halt after lockdown and coming months also look bleak for the tourism sector, he said.
Manjit Thakur, another taxi operator, said only thing the government has given them a waiver of passenger tax that they had to deposit every month. The banks have just deferred the instalments till May 31. “As the lockdown would be open I would have to pay an insurance premium of Rs 75,000 for my vehicle and bank instalment. There would hardly be any work as the tourism season is unlikely to start till the end of this year. The earning I made from taxi was the only source of livelihood for my family. In case the government does not help I would have no option but to sell my vehicle in distress,” he said.
Some of the taxi operators who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they got some work when some people hired their vehicles for coming back to state from Delhi or Chandigarh.
However, the drivers who came back after taking passengers from Delhi or Chandigarh were put under institutional quarantine for a period of 28 days. There is stigma now attached with anybody coming from hotspot areas of country and are put under institutional quarantine. So, most of the taxi operators are not willing to take up the work of ferrying state residents struck in other parts of the country back into the state.
The taxi operators in the state are demanding that the government should adopt a policy and provide them financial grant so that they can sustain through economic collapse created for them due to coronavirus pandemic.
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