Twenty-six unemployed persons from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were given tourist taxis by the Tourism Department in the first phase of their scheme here on Saturday.

The scheme for 2013-14 will see a total of 46 cars being handed over.

The remaining 20 were in the process of getting the loans finalised, said Ajith Jithendranath, Assistant Director of Tourism Department.

Though 58 vehicles were sanctioned to the district, only 52 people had applied, he said. The scheme involved a Rs. 2 lakh subsidy and the rest was loan component at an interest of 12 per cent a year, he said. While the basic compact car cost Rs. 4.48 lakh, the applicant has the option of upgrading the vehicle to a sedan or a four-wheel drive by depositing a down payment of Rs. 25,000.

For Madhav B. (44), a daily-wage labourer from Sarve village in Puttur Taluk, the scheme gives him an opportunity to come out of poverty. “I’m expecting an income of about Rs. 20,000 a mont. Even if Rs. 5,000 goes for loan repayment, I will have enough for my family,” he said.

Similarly, Praveen M. (22) from Mulki, who had been attempting to operate a taxi since three years, said owning a car would have been “impossible” if not for the scheme.

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