Indore, May 11 (PTI) The National Highway Number 3,
also called Mumbai-Agra Road that touches Indore in Madhya
Pradesh through a bypass road, is seeing a steady stream of
autorickshaws from the country''s commercial capital as people
move back to their native towns and villages amid the
coronavirus-enforced lockdown that has rendered them jobless.
Officials and eye-witnesses put the number of these
three-wheelers from Mumbai crossing the Indore Bypass Road at
50 every hour (rpt every hour).
Mumbai has the highest number of COVID-19 cases for
any city in the country and a strict lockdown since late March
has taken almost all autorickshaws and black-and-yellow taxis
off the roads there, leaving thousands of drivers and their
kin jobless and without adequate cash in hand.
Among them is Baleshwar Yadav (54), who is returning
from the country''s commercial capital to his native village in
Jharkhand''s Hazaribagh, with eight people, including two women
and three children, cramming into his three-wheeler.
"I have been driving an autorickshaw in Mumbai for the
past 12 years. But everything is closed there now. I spent two
months digging into my savings but that, too, has run out. I
have no choice but to return to my village," he told PTI on
Asked about the possibility of returning to Mumbai in
the near future, he replied, "Whether it is six months or a
year, I have to return because I still have to pay
installments on the bank loan with which I bought this
vehicle. Till the situation normalises in Mumbai, I will
engage myself in agriculture and cattle rearing."
Ajay Yadav (36), hailing from Jaunpur district in
Uttar Pradesh, said he had been driving an autorickshaw in
Mumbai''s Goregaon area for the last four years, and had left
for his native village two days ago with a couple of friends.
"There was no food in Mumbai due to lack of work. We
will think of returning to the city later," he said.
"Around 50 autorickshaws are passing through this road
every hour. Most of them are from Mumbai," claimed Rajkumar
Patel, a volunteer at a dining stall set up by a social
organisation on the Indore bypass road.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Umakant
Chaudhary said autorickshaws were being allowed to pass only
after those inside are subjected to medical screening when
they enter the border of Madhya Pradesh.
"We have been seeing a sizeable number of
autorickshaws from Mumbai on the Indore Bypass Road over the
last one week. We have also received information that some
drivers are charging people to transport them to their native
places in other states," the DySP said.
Chaudhary said CNG-fitted autorickshaws were seen in
long queues at fuel pumps on the Indore Bypass road since the
number of pumps selling CNG on this route is less.
"On this route, CNG pumps open between 6 am and 10 pm.
In view of the problems faced by autorickshaws, locals are
demanding these pumps be kept open 24 hours," Chaudhary added.
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