Ever since the lockdown began, the petrol and diesel prices have gone up by Rs 19 a litre and autogas by Rs 9. On Wednesday, in Chennai, a litre of petrol was sold at Rs 91.66 while diesel costs Rs 84.99. The price of autogas is Rs 44.55 per litre. Post-lockdown, the fuel prices started increasing from May 5 last year. Then, petrol was priced at Rs 72.26 per litre and diesel at Rs 65.69 per litre. Autogas was sold at Rs 35.44 a litre.
K Dilibabu, who has been driving an autorickshaw for over 15 years in the city said that number of trips and earnings have come down drastically after the COVID-19 outbreak. “The fuel price hike has made things much worse. I used to earn at least Rs 300 to Rs 400 a day after spending Rs 300 on diesel and paying the daily rent of Rs 150. Now, after the hike, my expenditure on fuel has gone up by Rs 100 but I am not earning even what I could earlier,” he complained. He said his wife too works as a daily wager to support their five-member family.
Tamil Nadu Auto Thozhilalar Sammelanam working president S Balasubramanian said the government was not bothered about the lives of the autorickshaw drivers who are severely hit by the lockdown and fuel price hike.
“The autorickshaw fares were fixed in 2012 when the petrol was sold at about Rs 73 per litre. Now it has increased by over Rs 17 per litre but the fares remain unchanged while the prices of essentials have skyrocketed,” he said, adding about 1.2 lakh autorickshaws are plying in the city which means 1.2 lakh families livelihood depended on it. “We demand the government to reduce the taxes substantially so that the prices of essential commodities come down, ” he said.