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Tourists junk auto, take bike in Rameswaram- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

RAMANATHAPURAM: Surging fuel prices and demand for bike rental services have left hundreds of autorickshaw drivers in Rameswaram in a major fix. Struggling to overcome the downing demand, several autorickshaw drivers are quitting the profession.

According to the trade union, as many as 700 auto rickshaws are plying in the Rameswaram area. The autorickshaw drivers solely rely on tourist services for earning enough money on a daily basis, but, the recently popular bike rental services are bringing down their demand.  

AITUC Ramanathapuram District President C Senthilvel said, “On an average, an auto driver for a single tour ride covering approximately 100 km to all major tourist attractions, including the Dhasnushkodi till APJ Abdul Kalam memorial, charge up to Rs 1,200. Of this, we spend half on the fuel and the driver gets only Rs 600. The auto drivers have to pay Rs 300 as lease and they only have Rs 300 at the end after several hours of driving in the summer heat around Rameswaram.”  

He added that to earn an extra amount, these auto drivers have to spend all night getting other normal rides apart from these tourist rides. “Despite submitting a petition, a lot of bike rental services are operating across the parts of the district. As more tourists are driven to such service, the demand for auto rickshaw tour packages has drastically come down leaving many drivers in a major fix. We request the government to take possible action to aid the auto-rickshaw drivers,” Senthilvel added.

Munishwaran, an autorickshaw driver said, considering the surging fuel prices, the auto drivers are forced to increase their fares to meet their expenses. However, such an increase in price has made people not choose autos, he further said, adding that they are already in a financial crisis due to the pandemic.

A tourist Sathiya Vignesh said, “Considering the expenses, many tourists are shifting towards affordable services which are way cheaper.”

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