Nearly 50% of auto and taxi drivers yet to receive ₹5,000 compensation
They are struggling to make ends meet owing to low ridership and increasing fuel prices
More than one lakh auto and taxi drivers in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka are yet to get the compensation of ₹5,000 that Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had announced during the lockdown as the Transport Department is yet to receive the second instalment of funds from the State government.
After the compensation was announced in May, around 2.41 lakh drivers submitted applications on the ‘Seva Sindhu’ portal, but to date only around 1.05 lakh have received the amount. The process of depositing the money into the accounts of another 15,000 drivers is under way, said officials.
Transport Commissioner N. Shivakumar told The Hindu that money will be deposited into the accounts of the remaining drivers after the department receives funds from the State government. “The State government had released ₹60 crore towards payment of compensation, which has been deposited in the accounts of drivers,” he said.
Some of the drivers claim to have been waiting for over a month for the money. Though lockdown restrictions have eased, most citizens are steering clear of hailing taxis and autorickshaws, preferring to use their own vehicles or hiring cars. With the number of COVID-19 cases going up by the day, many areas have voluntarily imposed a lockdown.
“I had applied on May 26 and received a message stating that my application had been accepted. I do not know why there is a delay in payment. We are suffering without any income. The relaxation of lockdown rules has not helped us. I have attached my taxi with an aggregator. I hardly get any bookings. If the State government gives me ₹5,000, it will help,” said a taxi driver.
A driver, who had applied for compensation in the last week of May, said he has no money to pay his house rent. “It has been pending for close to three months. Increase in fuel prices has made the problem worse,” he said.
While making the announcement about the compensation, the State government had estimated that close to 7.50 lakh drivers would apply, but the number of applications received so far has been much lower. As per the data of the department, over five lakh autos and 2.48 lakh taxis are registered in the State. Transport Department officials claimed that by the first week of June, 2.12 lakh drivers had applied. Over the last few weeks, it has received around 29,000 new applications.
Officials claim they don’t know why the response has been so poor. However, drivers’ unions allege that there are too many caveats or riders in the process, which in the end resulted in “depriving a large number of drivers” of benefits.
For instance, maxi cabs drivers are not eligible for the compensation. In cities like Bengaluru, two drivers drive a single auto or a taxi in shifts, but as per the compensation rules, only one driver is eligible for the compensation.
On Tuesday, the Transport Department said that the deadline to accept applications has been extended till July 31.