Hyderabad: Auto rickshaw drivers are threatening to go on a strike in protest against the Mahalaxmi free travel scheme for women introduced by the Congress government in the State.
The drivers argue the scheme is affecting their income and demand that the government intervene and bail them out of impending financial troubles.
The scheme, as part of the six guarantees that brought the Congress to power in the State, was launched on Saturday and is already a big hit among women and girls. The TSRTC made all arrangements for hassle free travel of women, girls and transgenders within the borders of Telangana.
The TSRTC is expecting women’s share in ridership to go from 40% presently to 55% by the year-end.
The auto rickshaw drivers point out their income came down by 40 to 50 per cent during peak hours. “Women took sharing autos to commute from office or educational campuses to their homes in the evening. After free bus travel started, we are not doing any business,” complained Hanumantha Rao, an auto driver from Nampally.
Zeeshan, another auto driver from Mehdipatnam, complained the women and girls took shared autos from Mehdipatnam to Attapur and Langer Houz. For last two days, we noticed women and girls waiting to catch buses to their destination.
“We have to pay Rs 400 rent a day for an auto rickshaw and spend an equal amount on fuel. Now our earnings have considerably come down,” he pointed out.
Afzaluddin, a member of Auto Dealers Union said, the prices of auto rickshaws will come down if the situation keeps going like this. “Lakhs of drivers depend on auto for their livelihood. Government should work out some solution to the problems and hold a meeting with unions,” he demanded.
The auto drivers say they will hold a meeting soon and go on indefinite strike to highlight their problems.