Autorickshaw driver Palakshappa (56), recently was ferrying a passenger who left behind her wallet in his auto. The auto driver who found the wallet after a while immediately alerted the Peace Auto office. Thanks to his sincerity and presence of mind, the wallet was safely returned to the owner.
It is this kind of quality that sets apart regular auto drivers from the peace auto drivers like Palakshappa, who was one of 20 autorickshaw drivers who were awarded with the ‘Peace Auto Awards’ for good services to passengers here on Sunday.
Peace Auto, the initiative that was kickstarted in the city in October last year, was launched with the aim of maintaining peaceful relations between auto drivers and passengers and to ensure passengers’ safety.
The awards were presented under six categories of best social service, best volunteer, longest serving, youngest, honest auto driver and best auto driver at the event organised by The World Peacekeepers Movement and United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan along with the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B. PAC).
Various dignitaries were present including Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, educationist Mohandas Pai and BIOCON managing director Kiran Mazumdar.
Ms. Shaw said such initiatives were crucial for building a great society or city. “Without autorickshaws, citizens would not be able to move about freely in the city. There are over a lakh autos in the city of which 75 are peace autos. We need more of these autos,” she said.
Speaking about the concept of a ‘gulabi’ (pink) auto, Ms. Shaw stressed the need for more women auto drivers in the city. “This will help women commuters feel safe while travelling,” she said. She also said applications could be launched making it easier for commuters to book for auto services.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mohandas Pai requested the Transport Minister to provide medical insurance and life insurance for auto drivers and their families, with the premium cost being shared by the government and the driver.
He also said scholarships must be provided for their children.
Addressing auto drivers at the event, Mr. Pai said the manner in which they treat customers is very important for the initiative to be a success.