The autorickshaw drivers’ union in Bengaluru on Thursday alleged that the Congress-led state government neglected them in the recent budget, and put forward various demands, including ban on bike taxis and compensation for the losses incurred due to the implementation of the ‘Shakti’ scheme. The union also gave a seven-day deadline to the state government to resolve the issue while threatening of indefinite protest in case their demands are not met.
According to the Bangalore Auto Drivers Unions’ Federation, the income of the auto drivers which had already taken a hit due to the bike taxis in the city, has now compounded with the “implementation of the Shakti scheme”, which provides free travel for women in select state-run buses. he scheme was launched on July 11 by chief minister Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru.
“Auto drivers are suffering after the implementation of the Shakti Yojana. At least ₹10,000 per month should be given to each auto driver as compensation,” the Union demanded.
Union president M Manjunath said, “Bike taxis are banned in Maharashtra, Telangana and Odisha. In the same way, bike taxis should be banned in Karnataka as well. Otherwise, all the other transport except government transport will be completely shut down.”
According to the union, there are 3.2 lakh autos across the state and 2.1 lakh autos in Bengaluru alone. The union stated that for the past two years, many organisations in the city have been continuously fighting against illegal white board taxis.
They pointed out that the Congress in its pre-poll manifesto had assured the auto and taxi drivers to ban bike taxis, among other demands, and condemned the lack of budget allocation in the interest of autorickshaw drivers.
The union has given a seven-day deadline to the state government to resolve the issue, and warned of indefinite protest from June 28, till their demands are met. “All the auto drivers will participate in the strike on that day. At least 21 auto organisations in Bengaluru will take part in the protest,” Manjunath said.
Apart from these demands, the union also urged the state government to establish a development corporation for unorganised commercial drivers and provide low-interest loans of up to ₹2 lakh through various government development boards. The union said that a proposal regarding the same would be submitted to the government soon.