For all the women traveling alone in Mumbai, there's some great news. In a first in the city, 548 women from across Maharashtra were granted autorickshaw permits through a lottery process organized at the Andheri RTO on Tuesday. These autorickshaws will be driven by women and will mostly cater to women commuters.
This comes after the government introduced a five percent reservation system for women autorickshaw drivers.
So, how are you going to identify these autos? It will be coloured either pink or light orange, reports Times Of India.
The city already has an exclusive women-only taxi service driven by women drivers. However, because their number is limited and most of them operate near airports and luxury hotels, it's not an easy option for most women commuters. The auto services will be more affordable and be available almost everywhere.
Meanwhile, the government is welcoming more applications from women as there are still 1,316 permits that remain to be allotted.
While certain rules have been relaxed for the female applicants, most of them are the same for drivers of both genders: they have to show that they have lived in Maharashtra for at least 15 years and they have to be fluent in speaking Marathi. It is not necessary for them to have any educational qualifications.
Among all the rules, speaking Marathi seems to be the most important one. Transport minister Diwakar Raote also stressed the importance of the rule, adding that it was non-negotiable.
"I am glad that online applications were also in Marathi. If any driver who gets a permit is found not to know the local language, we will take disciplinary action against the officials who cleared his files," he said.
Mumbai is not the first city to start the pink auto initiative. In 2012, Ranchi had started it following the Delhi gangrape. In Odisha, Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack also launched the 'pink auto' service last year after several complaints of harassment from women commuters.
In Gurgaon too, the pink auto service was launched in January 2013 following the Delhi gangrape. However, the operation was shut down due to lack of safety features. It was re-launched in 2015 with panic button and light and sound button installed in it.
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