The welfare board caters to the drivers of autorickshaws, taxies, vans, tempos, lorries and buses.
According to the announcement made by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in the Assembly on March 24, the members of the welfare board would get Rs 1,000, 15 kg rice, one kg dhal and cooking oil each for free.
Autorickshaws and taxi drivers are finding it difficult to make a living during the lockdown with no earning and mounting debts.
According to Tamil Nadu Auto Thozhilalar Sammelanam working president S Balasubramaniam, there are 13 lakh registered public transport vehicles, including 2.85 lakh autorickshaws, whose drivers are eligible to register under the welfare board. But a mere 83,500, including 45,000 autorickshaw drivers, have registered themselves in the welfare board so far and even among them, over 30,000 drivers have failed to renew their membership.
“As per our estimate, only about 50,000 out of the 13 lakh drivers in the State would get the government assistance. This is unacceptable,” he said, while pointing out that the special assistance being rendered to drivers is from the corpus fund accumulated with the welfare board.
“Hence the government should take steps to assist all the autorickshaw drivers in the State irrespective of their enrolment in the welfare board and also to enhance the assistance to Rs 15,000 each,” Balasubramaniam demanded.
K Shanmugham, a taxi driver said that he was finding it very difficult to feed his family. “My family runs on my daily earning of Rs 700-Rs 1,000. I have to pay EMI for my car besides interest for the loan taken from a money lender. I have no idea how I am going to pay them,” he lamented. M Bhoopathi, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Call Taxi Workers Union, said that his union had planned to carry out a campaign to enrol the call taxi drivers in the welfare board this year. “There are 1.05 lakh taxis registered in the State. We urge the government to provide financial assistance of Rs 5,000 each to all the drivers with transport licence (yellow badge),” he said. However, a senior government official in the labour department said that they have already started the
process to provide assistance under CM’s assistance