By the end of February, Maharashtra will see pink and orange auto-rickshaws plying on their roads as the state government has decided to introduce special autos driven by women and catering mostly to women commuters.
Reports suggest that the state government has given permits to as many as 548 women drivers from across the state to drive auto-rickshaws.
Out of these 548 permits, 465 permits have been given to women from the Mumbai region alone.
These permits were allotted via a lottery process that was organized at the Andheri RTO.
The women who were allotted these permits will drive autos that would be coloured either pink or light orange, and cater largely to women commuters.
The autos are expected to hit the roads by the end of February.
Talking about the initiative, Diwakar Raote, Maharashtra’s transport minister said:
“The women have won through a 5% reservation system, which was introduced for the first time, as we want to encourage them to ply autos and earn a livelihood. The move will also help women who travel alone.”
In total, 35,628 permits have been given in Mumbai whereas 6,000 more permits have been given in the rest of Maharashtra, including areas such as Solapur, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad.
The Maharashtra government is also planning to issue another one lakh permits this month in Mumbai alone as Balasaheb Thackeray’s birth anniversary falls in January.
If these one lakh permits are approved and issued, it will bring the total number of auto permits in Mumbai to 1.6 lakh which including the present 3 lakh permits will give a huge boost to Mumbai’s public transport system.
As for the women auto drivers, the number of applicants was far less than the 5 per cent of permits reserved for them, meaning that there are still many permits available for them.
To attract more women drivers, the department has relaxed few rules, like the women with commercial licence need not wait for a year to get their badge and will get it within a month.
In view of women’s safety, these female drivers will ply their allotted autos mainly on shared routes and would give preference mostly to women commuters.
Despite relaxing some rules, Raote said that the knowledge of Marathi is still compulsory.
If it is found that a driver who doesn’t know Marathi has been allotted a permit, then the officials who cleared his files would face a strict disciplinary action.