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Free bus rides for women denting our income, say Telangana auto drivers

Out of the estimated four-and-half lakh autos in Telangana, two lakh ply in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and an estimated six lakh people, directly and indirectly, are dependent on autorickshaws for their livelihood.
Last Updated 12 December 2023, 21:30 IST

Hyderabad, DHNS: After the Congress government rolled out the Mahalakshmi Scheme that offers free bus rides for women, the autorickshaw drivers fear that the scheme will dent their income.

Angry auto drivers are protesting across Telangana demanding that the government provide an alternate livelihood for them. In Konaraopet of Rajanna Siricilla district, auto drivers staged a protest on Tuesday. “Working women used to take share autos for their commute. Now, with the free bus service being provided by the government, many women are opting for TSRTC buses even though they are jam-packed. They don't mind waiting for a longer period to avail the service. The government must address our problem. We are not against the Mahalakshmi scheme," said Afzal M, an auto driver in Mehdipatnam. Auto drivers in Kaddam of Nirmal district also staged a protest on Tuesday.

Out of the estimated four-and-half lakh autos in Telangana, two lakh ply in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and an estimated six lakh people, directly and indirectly, are dependent on autorickshaws for their livelihood.
"I spend around Rs 400 on diesel and Rs 400 on rent per day and I earn just enough to make ends meet. Now, I am unable to even meet the expenses of rent and fuel. God save us,” rued Durgesh of Ameerpet.
Under Mahalakshmi Scheme, women can show any identity proof of local domicile and avail of free rides in around 7,292 bus services run by TSRTC. According to TSRTC estimates, around 40 lakh passengers ply on buses daily, out of which at least 30% are women.

TSRTC earns around Rs 14 crore per day and after the introduction of the Mahalakshmi Scheme, it is estimated the income will drop by at least 50%, which the state government will reimburse.
"We are not against such schemes, but the government should take into consideration the plight of auto drivers. We will watch it for a month and then take up the matter with the government,” said Telangana Auto Drivers Union honorary state president G Ravi Kumar.

LPG cylinder at Rs 500

On Tuesday, civil supplies minister N Uttam Kumar Reddy reviewed the implementation of another scheme which promises to provide gas cylinders for Rs 500. Reddy said details are being worked out and the scheme would be implemented soon. He said the scheme will likely cost the exchequer between Rs 3,000 - 4,000 crore per annum.

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(Published 12 December 2023, 21:30 IST)

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