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Plight of 500,000 autorickshaw drivers as lockdown halts income

An Indian man on his bike passes the parked auto rickshaw during a nation wide lockdown in Mumbai, India, 15 May 2020. Source: AAP

The long lockdown in India has left thousands of autorickshaw drivers starving.

The lockdown across India due to coronavirus has adversely affected the lives of daily wage workers which includes more than 500,000 autorickshaw drivers in Mumbai 


Highlights: 

  • There are more than 500,000 daily wage-earning auto-rickshaw drivers in Mumbai 
  • Most of the auto-rickshaw drivers come from Bihar, Rajasthan, UP, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The biggest problem they face today is one of starvation.

 


"Many of them are facing starvation and some of them who left for their villages have been killed in highway road accidents," Mr K. K. Tiwari, the president of Mumbai's Auto-rickshaw Union told SBS Hindi.

K K Tiwari President of Autorickshaw Drivers Union
supplied

Most of the auto-rickshaw drivers in Mumbai are migrant workers from Bihar, UP, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

They have been out of business for many weeks prior to the lockdown was announced on March 25 in India.

Since schools and colleges had started closing down before the lockdown, the drivers were left with little business. 

An auto-rickshaw driver earns about INR 500 on an average per day.

Some live with their families in little rooms while others live in shared accommodation, shared by up to eight drivers, Mr Tiwari reveals.

"About 60% of the drivers are stuck in Mumbai and are unable to return to their villages because no trains are available for them.

"Some tried to get back to their village which could be about a 1,000 km away from Mumbai in their own rickshaw and met with fatal accidents," Mr Tiwari says.

Mr Tiwari claims many have fallen sick due to heat and congested accommodation but have no money to go to the doctor.

“Often doctors themselves have shut their dispensaries, so these people just don’t know where to go,” he adds.

“Thank God for some community organizations who are trying their best to feed these people in dire need. Their biggest problem is starvation. When we go to them with food, some of them break down crying because they and kids haven't eaten for two days,” Mr Tiwari says.

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