Pink auto service in Surat: By the women, for the women

 

It is expected that the women pink auto drivers would be able to earn at least Rs18,000 per month by ferrying school kids and other female passengers.— Twitter picture
It is expected that the women pink auto drivers would be able to earn at least Rs18,000 per month by ferrying school kids and other female passengers. - Twitter picture

Surat - Surat Municipal Corporation has launched Pink Auto Service for women auto rickshaw drivers to cater to women passengers.

By CP Surendran

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Published: Fri 7 Jul 2017, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 8 Jul 2017, 1:42 AM

Surat in Gujarat is a diamond city. But it shines in other ways too. It is one of the cleanest cities in India. And now, it's turned a little more pink, too, than other cities.
Surat Municipal Corporation has launched Pink Auto Service for women auto rickshaw drivers to cater to women passengers. The ubiquitous auto rickshaw, or the three-wheeler as it is called in some places abroad, is what carries the people in Indian cities and towns to their destinations besides buses and cars and metros. Millions travel by them, as they are cheaper and widely available. But the auto rickshaw that Surat has launched is of the women, for the women and by the women.
The Surat civic body entered into a deal with the Bank of Baroda (BOB) for providing loans at 7 per cent interest to women drivers to purchase their auto rickshaws.
The BOB sanctioned Rs84,000 loan per auto to each woman applicant with 25 per cent subsidy for the vehicle coming from a central government scheme. The first batch of beneficiaries includes 15 women.
It is expected that these 15 women would be able to earn at least Rs18,000 per month by ferrying schoolchildren and other female passengers in the city.
The pink autos are scheduled to take to the roads in the next two months. The corporation plans to start a Pink Van Service as well in the future.
The corporation is not just a finance party in the venture. They identify, train and help with the paperwork for women to get loans from banks. The municipal corporation is instrumental in getting the women-drivers their licences too. The corporation acts as a guardian for the women-drivers.
"We have a batch of 70 women, and 15 are ready to start work," said Gayatri Jariwala, assistant commissioner in-charge, urban community development department, said.  In order to get recruits business, the corporation worked on all-girls schools, where hundreds of children are ferried from home to school and back by auto rickshaws usually driven by men.
"With assured business, they can easily pay their monthly installment to the bank and also save enough money," Gayatri Jariwala said.
The autos are painted pink, and the drivers wear pink salwar kameez. Only women passengers are allowed to travel by pink autos. "But the passengers needn't wear pink," a municipal official added in a lighter vein.
This is not the first time pink autos are introduced in India. A couple of years ago, Gurgaon in the National Capital Region had introduced it, but by private initiative. The Gurgaon Municipal Corporation had not much to do with it except allow the new autos to ply. 
But the initiative was not sustainable for two reasons. Unlike Surat, the drivers were males, which in principal defeats the purpose as women's safety is the primary objective of pink autos. The other reason was that there was not any business-focus like Surat, where assured business is made available in the form of girls schools.
"Everyday we read about harassment of women commuters in different cities. This pink service not only provides employment to women, but ensures safe travel for female passengers," Jariwala said.
The pink autos may take off in the near future in Northern cities like Delhi, Patna, and Lucknow, and other places where incidents of women harassment is on the rise.
Diamond city shines with pink drivers
Surat Municipal Corporation has launches Pink Auto Service for women auto rickshaw drivers to cater to women passengers
The civic body entered into a deal with the Bank of Baroda for providing loans at 7 per cent interest to women drivers to purchase their auto rickshaws
BOB sanctioned Rs84,000 loan per auto to each woman applicant with 25 per cent subsidy for the vehicle
The first batch of beneficiaries includes 15 women
 



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