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Karnataka to provide loan subsidies to SC/ST drivers of Ola and Uber: report

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The Karnataka government said that it is collaborating with online cab booking services Ola and Uber to facilitate loans to persons in cheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) to buy cars and run a taxi service, reports The Economic Times. The government is offering a subsidy of Rs 3 lakh each to beneficiaries and banks and other financial institutions will chip in the rest of the amount through loans.

The state government said it would help 3,500 people across 224 Assembly constituencies this financial year and will allocate Rs 105 crore in subsidies.

However, the publication did not add it there would be a waiver for vehicle loans by the government and Ola and Uber. The development comes in the backdrop of a number of protests by drivers across the country and both Ola and Uber have tweaked their incentive plans which led to reduced incomes.  MediaNama reported that drivers were are not able to make their ends meet or pay EMIs for their car loans.

Many drivers bought cars as they were lured by higher incomes the companies offered in 2015 and 2016 when the companies were starting their operations. Drivers MediaNama spoke to said that in 2016 and 2015, they had monthly earnings of Rs 85,000 and Rs 70,000. Now their earnings have fallen to around Rs 51,000. Fuel, vehicle repairs, and the commission charged by Ola and Uber.

Note that both Ola and Uber did not respond to questions on whether the companies would ask for a waiver on behalf of the drivers. However, Uber did commend the efforts of the state’s government when reached out for a comment. MediaNama will update once we hear from Ola.

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“We commend the efforts being taken by the Government of Karnataka to create livelihood opportunities for SC/ST youth from districts across the state. This program can act as a springboard for individuals from marginalized communities to become asset owners and pursue better micro-entrepreneurship and livelihood options. We are always committed to encourage opportunities that foster an ecosystem of skill development and entrepreneurship and are happy to support the Government of Karnataka’s mission,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. 

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