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Pune: Autorickshaw union calls for one day bandh on October 1, citizens to suffer during commute

by salil123
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Pune: Autorickshaw union has called for a single day bandh on October 1 to press for their long standing demands of a welfare board, insurance for auto drivers and exemption from taxes. As a result, autos in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad cities will likely stay off-road on Thursday which will make citizens suffer during their commute.

The Rickshaw Panchayat has called for this bandh. There are about 1 lakh autorickshaws registered in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad cities. Over 4 lakh citizens are dependent on them for their livelihoods directly or indirectly.

What are the current demands:
– Government should compensate Rs 14000 per auto driver for loss during lockdown period
– State government should pay the autorickshaw loan EMI amounts for the lockdown period
– Extend the insurance validity period or give Rs 4000 refund to auto drivers

The Rickshaw Panchayat will stage protests at 11 am Thursday at the District Collector Office premises in order to draw attention of government officers towards their pending demands. Auto drivers will thereafter go on a single day strike to mark their participation in the protest.

Nitin Pawar, Secretary of Rickshaw Panchayat said, “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackery says that citizens should stay at home and not step out due to the Covid-19 outbreak. But what will happen to the auto drivers if they stay at home? Who would feed them and their families? Will anyone help them? We have to go on strike and protest to highlight this contradiction.”

The Pune Autorickshaw union, Rickshaw Panchayat, had earlier organised a morcha for their demands. The then District Collector Naval Kishor Ram had shown interest in solving and accepting the demands of auto rickshaw drivers. However, a few days later, Ram was transferred to Delhi. Hence, the auto drivers demands remained unresolved.

The state government has provided an assistance of Rs 550 crore to the State Transport (ST) department. Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations are providing assistance to the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML). Auto rickshaws are also an important stakeholder in the public transport system of the city, but government is not ready to bail them out of current crisis period, Pawar alleged.

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