Delhi's autowallahs struggle to make ends meet despite relaxations in lockdown guidelines

New Delhi [India], May 20 (ANI): After two months of lockdown, the auto-rickshaws are now finally back on Delhi roads since Tuesday after the Delhi Government granted permission for autos, buses and cabs to run during Lockdown 4.0. But despite the ease in restrictions, the 'autowallahs' of Delhi are still having a tough time as they have to wait for an entire day for a single occupant, which many a time leads to ending the day with empty pockets.

Many autowallahs say that the move of allowing a single passenger is impractical and demanded that the Delhi government should allow at least two passengers. Due to one passenger rule, they have had to let go of customers in times of financial distress.

Ram Dev Burma (54), who has been running auto-rickshaws in Delhi for the last 25 years, says that throughout the day he "merely gets two single passengers".

The same is the plight of Bablu, Ramesh Chandra, Raj Kumar, and several other auto drivers of Delhi. Most of them are getting only about two passengers a day and say that their tough times are still on even after the relaxations.

"We are following the guidelines of the government and due to it we just get one or two passengers in the day. Since the metro is not running, most of the office goers use personal conveyances. We get either two or three passengers mostly who are having some emergency but we have to sometimes let them go due to the rules," said Ramesh Chandra while speaking to ANI.

In Lutyens Delhi, many of the auto drivers were found relaxing as they had no passengers. They said it was better to take a break rather than looking for 'single passengers and burning fuel'.

"Yesterday, I filled LPG for Rs 120 which was consumed in the evening. I could not save any money. In fact, I had to invest Rs 400 for buying hand sanitiser and auto sanitisers. So, our expenses have increased but earning has reduced," said one of the drivers.

As per the new COVID-19 guidelines, the Delhi government has allowed auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, and cycle-rickshaws to ply on roads with only one passenger.

On the other hand, taxis and cabs are allowed with only two passengers. Gramin, phat-phat, and eco-friendly sevas have also been allowed with only two passengers. Maxi cabs are allowed to ply with only five passengers and RTVs with only 11 passengers.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked the drivers to ensure the disinfection of the passenger seat after each drop-off for the safety of the next passenger. (ANI)