The autorickshaw and taxi drivers across the city have denounced the rise in fuel prices amid the COVID-19 second wave. The petrol price remained at Rs 99.80 a litre on Wednesday while the diesel price touched Rs 93.72 a litre. Before the last year’s lockdown, the price of petrol stood at Rs 72.28 a litre and the diesel cost was Rs 65.71 per litre.
“The prices are rising every day. This burns a hole in the pocket of the common man. Especially impacted are those who need to pay for fuel daily,” said Kumaresan, an autorickshaw driver at Perambur. He said the fuel price rise was eating into the earnings of people who make a living by transporting people or goods, and that too gains the backdrop of the COVID crisis when earnings are already poor.
All transport vehicle owners suffered during the lockdown since the government had banned the movement of public transport vehicles to cut down on the movement of people. “The autorickshaw and taxi drivers have faced a lot of problems during this period. They struggled to make money to even feed their families and pay the fees for the schools that were being conducted online,” said S Ravi, a taxi driver. Tamil Nadu Auto Thozhilalar Sammelanam president Balasubramanian said the state government should revise the autorickshaw fares fixed in 2013 when a litre of petrol was sold at Rs 82.95.
“The Madras High Court has directed the government to periodically revise the fares when the petrol price goes up or down. But the government had revised the fares only five times in the last 41 years. At present, the minimum fare is Rs 25 for first 1.8 km and Rs 12 per km thereafter. We are demanding Rs 40 for the first 1.5 km and Rs 20 per km subsequently,” he said.