Delhi Cabinet approves Rs 5,000 cr assistance to auto, taxi drivers hit by COVID-19 lockdown

New Delhi: The Delhi Cabinet on Friday approved Rs 5,000 financial assistance to all individuals holding public service badge (drivers) of para-transit vehicles and others in the wake of the lockdown here amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

The city transport department in a statement, also said, beneficiaries of the 2020 scheme need not reapply but will get the Rs 5,000 directly transferred to their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts subject to verification of deaths from local bodies.

“The Delhi Cabinet today approved Rs 5,000 financial assistance to all individuals holding public service badge (drivers) of para-transit vehicles and permit holders of para-transit vehicles in the wake of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and further curfew announced by the Delhi government that has left the owners of these vehicles in financial hardships,” it said.

On May 4, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that a one-time financial assistance of Rs 5,000 will be provided to the PSV badge and permit holders of paratransit vehicles – namely auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, taxis, ”phatphat sewa”, eco-friendly sewa, Gramin sewa and maxi cabs, the statement said.

In 2020, Rs 78 crore was given as financial assistance to more than 1.56 drivers of auto rickshaws and taxis, it added.

In April 2020, the Delhi government had launched two different schemes for PSV badge holders and permit holders who had lost their means of livelihood during the first nationwide lockdown, the transport department said.

Delhi currently has over 2.80 lakh PSV badge holders and 1.90 lakh permit holders who are eligible to apply for the scheme and the Delhi Transport Department has already made necessary budgetary provisions for the same, it added.

The validity of documents, including PSV badge, permit, driving license, of all public service vehicles have been extended periodically since March 2020, according to orders by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

The recent extension is until June 30, 2021, and all the holders of driving license and PSV badge that are valid as on February 1, 2020, are eligible to receive the financial assistance, the statement said.

However, similar to the last scheme, this benefit will only be extended to individual owners of para-transit vehicles and not to companies owning vehicle fleets, it added.

Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot was quoted as saying in the statement, “Delhi has been fighting this deadly second wave and under CM Arvind Kejriwal’s strong leadership, Delhi government is doing everything it can to ensure the implications of a lockdown, especially among the daily wage labourers, including auto/taxi drivers, are kept to a minimum.”(PTI)

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