For long, auto and taxi drivers in the city have been clamouring for ‘social security’, and their wish is all set to be fulfilled well, in part at least with Finance Minister P Chidambaram having included auto rickshaw and taxi drivers in one of the Centre’s health schemes.
Delivering his address on Thursday, Chidambaram said, “The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana covers 34 million families below the poverty line. It will now be extended to other categories such as rickshaw, auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, sanitation workers, rag-pickers and mine workers.”
This means that the medical expenses incurred by the drivers will be partly covered under this health scheme. Members of the taxi unions in Mumbai welcomed the move and said that they had been demanding the same for long. “Social security for drivers was one of our major demands, ever since the Hakim Committee released its first report in 1996. this announcement is at least a start to fulfilling our demands,” said A Quadros, taxi union leader.
Union members are likely to meet relevant government departments to take this scheme forward. Auto rickshaw unions echoed these sentiments, saying that the move was a small step towards ensuring welfare of drivers.
“Although this doesn’t completely ensure social equity, at least it contributes to the support of drivers. Nonetheless, we will go ahead with our agitation for complete social security for drivers,” said auto union leader Sharad Rao. The modalities and details are expected to be defined soon. Both the unions are united in their hope that the state government doesn’t go slow on the implementation.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana
>> The scheme, launched by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, covers 34 million families below the poverty line (BPL)
>> It provides health insurance coverage for BPL families and offers them relief from financial liabilities arising out of health shocks that involve hospitalisation. Beneficiaries under RSBY are entitled to hospitalisation coverage up to Rs 30,000 for most of the diseases. Pre-existing conditions are covered from day one and there is no age limit
>> Coverage extends to five members of the family, including the head of the household, spouse and up to three dependents. Beneficiaries need to pay only Rs 30 as registration fee while the central and state governments pay the premium to the insurer selected by the state government on the basis of competitive bidding