Patients visiting the Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital at Banjara Hills face a rip-off by auto-drivers who charge exorbitantly for short distances

It is a known fact that autorickshaw drivers across the city charge arbitrary fares notwithstanding the meters affixed to their vehicles. After the recent hike in fares, fewer drivers carry passengers at the metered rates, on the pretext that fuel prices have increased manifold.

That such fares are collected from poor and hapless patients visiting a well-known cancer hospital in the city makes it all the more deplorable. Patients visiting the Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in Banjara Hills are being literally ripped-off by auto-drivers who charge exorbitantly for short distances.

The hospital has a footfall of anywhere between 400 and 500 every day. With most patients old and decrepit, their attendants have no other go than to hire an autorickshaw to reach their respective homes. Taking advantage of such necessity, auto-drivers demand arbitrary charges, irrespective of meter-fares or the paying-capacity of passengers.

“We have come from Khammam and are staying at a rented house at Tolichowki Dargah, so that we are relatively closer to the hospital where our uncle is being treated. It is only six or seven kilometres away via a shortcut, but we end up paying anywhere between Rs.120 to Rs.150 every day,” says Dharma Rao, a patient’s attendant.

Finding houses near the hospital is almost impossible as few landlords are willing to rent them out to cancer patients.

As the night draws nearer, auto fares go up, in proportion to the urgency of the need to be home soon. Shuttle autos are available, but they do not drop passengers at their doorstep. RTC buses to the hospital are few and far between, and do not cover all the routes.

“While coming, we tried getting down at MLA Colony and hiring an auto from there. But looking at my mother’s state of health, rickshaw-wallahs began demanding anywhere between Rs. 40 and Rs. 60, which is more or less the same from my home too,” says G. Kusuma, who is from Begumpet.

Ch. Subbarao, another attendant for a patient, claims the auto-drivers of the area have ganged up and refuse to be hired for lesser fares. Further, they scare away any new auto-driver who ventures to the spot.

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