After manoeuvring cabs, women are all set to take over the steering wheels of state-run buses in Maharashtra. Not only will women drive the buses, they will also take on the jobs of conductors.
This is the likely fallout of a Social Justice Department scheme floated this year that aims to train backward class students — men and women. At the end of a year, the scheme promises to have trained 10,200 conductors, 10,000 bus and truck drivers and 10,000 car drivers. The beneficiaries will be trained at centres across 34 districts of the state. Those interested have to simply register with the district social justice office.
"In the public and the private sectors, there will always be a demand for drivers and conductors," a Social Justice Department official said on condition of anonymity. "For women, we are willing to impart classes even at the taluka level."
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), which runs the state transport buses, employs women conductors as well as depot managers but has no women drivers among its staff of over 12,000 employees. This is likely to change now. "We have 30 per cent reservation for women in MSRTC and if this training can create good drivers and conductors, we will hire them," said Managing Director OP Gupta.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking too is open to the idea of employing women as drivers, said General Manager Uttam Khobragade.