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Delhi not for women cabbies

delhi Updated: May 21, 2009 02:20 IST
Manoj Sharma
Manoj Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Sunita Chaudhary (30) has been driving an auto-rickshaw in the city for the past five years and dreams of owning a taxi now. “I want to drive a taxi before the Commonwealth Games,” said Chaudhary.

But a loan is hard to come by. Both government and private banks have turned Chaudhary away. Over 100 women who underwent training as drivers realised Delhi is not really keen to help them. Despite starting in 2003, Delhi has only 15 women cab drivers — thanks to a private operator.

The Delhi government hopes to rope in at least 500 women drivers before the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Acquiring a commercial licence, loans for vehicles, passengers and even transport department officials are all stumbling blocks for a woman who wants to be a cabbie.

Chaudhary said passengers misbehaved at times. “Maine aise laat maari (I kicked them),” she said, describing an incident when two passengers refused to pay and tried to misbehave.

Mamta (30), known only by her first name, became a rece-ptionist after she found she would have to wait for a year to get a commercial licence.

Mumbai, on the other hand, got two of its first all-women taxi services in 2007 — The Priyadarshini and Forsche. Together they have about 60 drivers on their rolls.

Dealing with the traffic police can be daunting as well. “A traffic policeman stopped me and told me I did not know how to drive,” said Ekta, who recently joined a playschool as a driver. “I panicked.”

Officials are unnecessarily harsh with women, said Shrivinas (he uses only one name), programme director, Azad Foundation, an NGO that had trained women drivers.

“If you want women taxi drivers, this is not the way to go about it, ” he said.