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 Monday.
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. PTI HWP MAS BNM RSY RSY
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI