Pune: In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, the Maharashtra government has selected tribal women for driving the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSTRC) buses.
Former President Pratibha Patil on Friday inaugurated the corporation’s initiative here to train and employ women as bus drivers.
As many as 163 women have been selected for the pilot project who will undergo training for driving heavy vehicles and will later be inducted as drivers in the state-run bus service.
Speaking at the event, state Transport Minister Divakar Ravte said the government will focus on the security and safety of women drivers. “This is the first such initiative in the country. We have made arrangements to ensure the safety and security of the women,” he said.
Former President Patil suggested that the MSTRC should not send the women drivers far away from their homes keeping in view their safety. She also asked the government to ensure that the drivers are provided with a safe place during their night stay in case they have to stay outside.
“Administration should not send these women away from their homes. If they are to halt somewhere at night, they should be provided with a safe place to stay. These things should be taken care,” she said.
She further said: “Providing education to women and taking them forward towards development is something that will take us as nation forward,” adding that tribal community is an important part of “our culture”.
These women who would be undergoing training hail from tribal parts of the state including Gadchiroli, Vardha, Bhandara-Gondiya districts.
The women looked happy with the government’s decision to employ them as a driver, a job considered to be a taboo for a woman.
Speaking to ANI, Vijaya Rajeshwari, one of the women, said her selection was like a dream coming true. “I had never thought that I would be driving. I am so happy,” she said.
“This is a very good opportunity for women. They were making strides in every field. Now they will also prove their ability in this field as well,” she added.
Rapanna Pathan, another woman, expressed similar sentiments, saying that she had never thought of “doing this in my life.”