Women, tribals to drive Modi’s transport scheme in Maoist strongholds | india | Hindustan Times
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Women, tribals to drive Modi’s transport scheme in Maoist strongholds

Some of India’s Maoist strongholds may witness a different kind of revolution when the government kicks off a pilot project on rural transport to be driven primarily by women, Dalit and tribal entrepreneurs.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2016 23:33 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
The scheme, announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the budget, aims to provide modern transportation to connect villages and link them to district towns.
The scheme, announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the budget, aims to provide modern transportation to connect villages and link them to district towns. (PTI Photo)

Some of India’s Maoist strongholds may witness a different kind of revolution when the government kicks off a pilot project on rural transport to be driven primarily by women, Dalit and tribal entrepreneurs.

The scheme, announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the budget, aims to provide modern transportation to connect villages and link them to district towns.

Government officials said they plan to roll out the pilot projects in districts under the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to see how effectively it can change the rural transport map. The IAP aims to boost development in areas affected by Left-wing extremism. “We may start the pilot projects from Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, Balaghat district of MP, and some parts of Jharkhand, Odisha and Bihar,” said an official.

In his budget, Jaitley termed the scheme “a game-changer”. Rural development ministry officials said they are expecting it to be a major source of employment for both non-skilled and semi-skilled workforce in villages. Under the proposed scheme, the government will give entrepreneurs a one-time subsidy to buy vehicles to run as public transport. “The government may offer even 20% of the total cost of the vehicles as an incentive,” said a rural ministry official.

Top sources said that in his review meetings with the ministry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly emphasised on the need to create employment opportunities for locals through new schemes.

Unlike the urban transport system, rural public transport remains highly unorganised and erratic. “Passenger traffic on our roads has to be made more efficient for the benefit of the common man and the middle class. This is a totally unreformed sector, which suffers from several impediments,” Jaitley said in his budget.

The government will bank on women and local entrepreneurs as it plans to start off the scheme likely to be named Pradhan Mantri Grameen Parivahan Yojana. “Women SHGs have performed exceptionally well in the country. We have no doubt they will do well in running an effective rural transportation system. Support of locals is absolute essential to make it a success. Plus, outsiders are bound to face obstacles in these difficult areas,” said a senior ministry official.