When I spoke to Darshan Singh,an auto-rickshaw driver of five years' standing;it was the livelihood aspect of the vehicle that he strressed."How many realise,"he asked ,"that more than 10,000 people in this city depend entirely on the earnings of these vehicles for their daily bread."
I gathered that at the end of a hard day's work,driving in all sorts of weather and in heavy traffic,an auto-rickshaw driver takes home to his waiting family the modest sum(on an average) of Rs. 5.
"Ofcourse,"Darshan Singh explained,"the daily earning-on a good day-is about Rs. 15.But Rs. 6 is spent on petrol and Rs. 4 must be put aside for the monthly installment to the finance company."
"There is more to it,"Darshan Singh continued,"Of the 2,000 auto-rickshaws in the capital,very few are owned outright by the drivers.They are mostly mortgaged to finance companies,in my case, the interest comes to more than 30 percent,per annum,"he added ruefully,"We work more for the finance companies than for our families."
"To make two ends meet,we must compete with the D.T.S. buses.In fact,we depend largely on the left-overs from the buses."Darshan Singh stated.
Asked why auto-rickshaws were driven so fast in heavy traffic,he said:"we are not reckless drivers.Check and see how many accidents we cause.But we must work fast,especially during rush hours.Our income depends on the number of trips we can make."

See More Archives from Newspapers