Nagpur: Owing to non fulfillment of their various demands as many as 20 lakh auto rickshaw drivers across Maharashtra will go on an indefinite strike from July 9.
This was announced during a meet of auto drivers and owners from across Vidarbha, in the presence of Autorickshaw Chalak Malak Sanghatana Sanyukta Kruti Samiti leader Shashank Rao from Mumbai. Several such meets have also been earlier held in Pune, Latur and Navi Mumbai. Several auto-rickshaw driver and leader from across 11 districts from Vidarbha attended the meet on Sunday and pledged their support for strike.
Rao told media that going on strike is their last option as the government has not taken a single positive step for the welfare of autorickshaw drivers. The autorickshaw drivers have been demanding a welfare board from them in order to get medical and insurance benefits. They also want an end to the auto permits system introduced by government, claiming it has caused chaos among the drivers due to increase in number of autos and decrease in demand. The drivers also want a cut in the ‘increased’ insurance premium for autos. “The insurance premium for a three-wheeler commercial transport vehicle is Rs 4,000 where in the insurance premium for autos is Rs 9,000,” said a leader.
“Every year around Rs 7,000 crore has been paid by auto rickshaw drivers to the insurance company as premium, most of which is not used. This money can be used for medical and insurance of auto-driver if a welfare board is created,” said Rao. The auto-rickshaw union leaders also demanded that the fare must be increased. “Not a single penny has been increased in auto-rickshaw fare since last three-and-half years even when the prices of CNG and other petroleum products have been increasing steadily,” said union leader Baba Kamble, from Pune.
“During last assembly session in Nagpur, Maharashtra transport minister Diwakar Raote and state minister Sudhir Mungantiwar had promised to fulfil our demands but till now, no steps have been taken in the directions,” said Kamble.