Telangana: KTR blames free travel scheme for auto drivers’ suicides

Hyderabad: Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) working president K T Rama Rao alleged that 15 auto drivers died by suicide within two months of the Congress party coming to power, due to the ‘unthinking’ implementation of free travel for women scheme in TSRTC-run buses in Telangana.

“Will the government not respond even when a tribal auto driver blazed his vehicle in front of the Praja Bhavan? The Congress government should provide Rs 10 lakhs in ex gratia to auto drivers who died by suicide and Rs 10000 allowance should be given to each auto driver’s family who lost their livelihood,” KTR demanded.

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KTR remarked that the policies set in motion “without due diligence” by the state government to benefit one category of people are “negatively affecting another category.”

“The marginalised sections of the state have lived happily in the last 10 years under the BRS rule. But, just in 55 days of your regime, many sections of society have gone into turmoil. Auto drivers who come from the weaker sections of society are in a dire situation today. Many are dying by suicide due to no income in their work,” he said.

The former minister further said that the BRS has set up a special committee under the party’s labour wing to understand the challenges faced by the auto driver community.

“We have sent the report filed by the committee to the state government but failed to get any response. We request the state government to respond to the issues faced by over 6.50 lakh auto drivers in the state,” he said.

The Telangana government has launched the “Maha Lakshmi Free Bus” scheme, which offers free travel for women and transgender persons on state-run non-AC buses. 

The scheme applies to City Ordinary, Express, Metro Express, and Palle Velugu buses run by the TSRTC. 

Women who are residents of Telangana and have valid identity cards confirming their residence address are eligible to avail of the service. The scheme is designed for the benefit of girls, women of all age groups, and transgender persons who are domiciled in Telangana.