Bandh bonanza: Cycle rikshaws make a killing in Delhi

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Cycle rikshaws
New Delhi, Feb 21: Commuters in Delhi faced a tough time on Thursday as autos and taxis remained off the roads and metro trains and buses were packed to capacity with the two-day Bharat bandh called by 11 major trade unions, entering its last day.

Anu Tandon, a sales executive from east Delhi, complained that she had to walk around 2 km from her house to the nearest Delhi Metro station as there were no autos on roads.

However, the strike proved to be a bonanza for cycle rickshaw-pullers as some of them charged double the usual fare.

With autorickshaws and taxis remaining off roads, a huge rush was witnessed at the Delhi Metro stations and in buses run by the Delhi Transport Corporation across the city.

"We will continue to be on strike on Thursday. About 70,000 autorickshaws and 20,000 taxis will keep off the roads. However, some autos will be allowed to ply to help commuters reach hospitals in case of medical emergencies," Rajendra Soni of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh told IANS.

Soni, who represents a section of autorickshaw drivers, said last year alone the CNG prices were raised nine times but the government did not revise the auto fares.

The trade unions have called the two-day strike after their talks with the government failed.

The unions have demanded concrete measures for containing inflation, steps for employment generation, universal social security, and fixing the minimum wage at Rs10,000 per month along with daily allowance.

"We tried our best to avoid the strike, as it will bring in lot of inconvenience to the public. But the government made us go for the strike, as they denied our genuine demands. We apologise to the public for the inconvenience. But to achieve something, one has to bear certain inconvenience," P Jayaraju, secretary, Indian Trade Union Congress (INTUC) told IANS.

According to the union leaders, the first day of the strike saw participation from several sectors including banking, public sector defence units, industry, hotels, financial institutions and taxi and auto drivers and the same would continue on Thursday.

A DTC official said: "The Delhi government is plying around 5,117 DTC buses, in addition to 6,153 RTV (rural transport vehicles) and 1,870 mini-buses, to facilitate the public."

Delhi Metro officials said they have deployed additional staff at stations across the city to manage the surging crowds besides putting on standby some extra trains on each line.

"Two or three extra trains on each line are on stand-by to manage the crowds... additional tokens are also kept," the metro official said.

Metro ridership at 8pm Wednesday was 16.29 lakh while Tuesday it was 15.83 lakh.

IANS

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