A PIL in the Gujarat high court has sought direction to the authorities to extend financial assistance to the city’s autorickshaw drivers, whose livelihood has been adversely affected by the lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic.
Two unions – Jagrut Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union and Ahmedabad Railway Station Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union – have filed the PIL through advocate K R Koshti seeking financial support from the state government for more than 1 lakh auto drivers in the city.
They have sought this assistance by citing Section 12 and 13 of the Disaster Management Act, which mandates the authorities to compensate for livelihood affected due to government decisions taken at the time of disaster.
The unions have contended in the PIL that the lockdown was imposed by invoking the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act, and therefore the government is liable to extend financial assistance to auto drivers.
The PIL contends that due to the epidemic, the traffic on city roads reduced drastically and Covid-19 guidelines have badly hit their business as limited passengers were allowed in an auto.
The PIL cited examples of states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi, which have paid certain amounts to auto and taxi drivers on account of the Covid-19 situation. The AP government has paid Rs 10,000 to nearly 2.62 lakh auto and taxi drivers.
The Karnataka government has paid Rs 5,000 to auto and taxi drivers as well as certain industrial workers. The Delhi government too extended such a relief package. The petitioners have submitted that the Gujarat government has not extended any such package, though it is liable to pay and repeated requests were made to it in this regard.