Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, June 17
The hike in fuel rates has given another jolt to auto-rickshaw operators in the city.
They claimed that the lockdown restrictions had already reduced their earnings to more than half and the additional financial burden of fuel hike has left a dent in their pockets.
Talking about a deceased auto-rickshaw driver, Manoj (40), who ended his life after jumping in front of a moving train on Sunday, Inderjit Singh, another driver, said: “The plight of auto-rickshaw operators remained unheard. After the two-passenger norm was introduced, the state government, instead of helping us, is forcing us to remain off road. Manoj was in debt and a challan of Rs 28,000 further added to his woes. He was ferrying more than two passengers due to which he was fined. Like him, we also don’t know how we will make a living now. We too will be forced to take such extreme steps. Before the lockdown, I was earning Rs 1,000-1,500 per day. After the government permitted the plying of auto-rickshaws on May 18, my earnings dropped to Rs 200-300. However, I was happy that I was earning something. But now, ferrying passengers is costing us dearer every day.”
The petrol and diesel prices have been increased 4-5 times in the city in the past 10 days, said Manish, a worker at a local petrol pump. He said the prices of petrol and diesel were around Rs 72 and Rs 62, respectively, on June 7. However, the current prices of petrol and diesel stand at Rs 78.55 and 69.66, respectively.
Ravinder Singh, who operates on the Pathankot bypass-railway station-bus stand route for the past over eight years, said: “The livelihood of auto-rickshaw drivers is at stake. The government’s apathy has left us nowhere. Most of the auto-rickshaw drivers are the sole breadwinners in their families and are finding it hard to earn enough to meet their basic needs. We urge the government to reduce the fuel prices.”
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