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Handicapped entrepreneur leading the way

Meet Megha Suhas Kale, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, who runs a petrol pump and has employed disabled people to discharge duties, reports Pradip Kumar Maitra.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2007 18:49 IST

She is an activist, an entrepreneur and an amateur journalist. But her physical disability has not come in the way of asserting her rights as a disabled and the right to lead a dignified living! Meet Megha Suhas Kale, a 43-year-old entrepreneur, who runs a petrol pump and has employed disabled people to discharge duties.

Kale was determined to show the world the disability does not come in the way to stand on own feet and move on in life. She wants to make both – the able and disable people – that there was no job, which the handicapped can't do.

And Megha is ably supported by her handicapped husband, Suhas, who is currently based in Mumbai and working as the general manager of the state run the Handicapped Corporation.

Megha, editor of Apanga Smruti, a Marathi weekly and the secretary of the National Handicapped Development Corporation, led several agitations and morchas for the rights of physically disabled people in the country and particularly in Maharashtra.

She even took out a “mashal yatra” (Torch March) of the handicapped people from Shegaon in Akola to Mumbai in support of recruiting them in government and semi-government organisations as per the exiting norms.

A native from Khamgaon in Buldhana district, Megha used to run a STD PCO booth, was married to Suhas Kale in 1989. “We both met while fighting for the cause of physically challenged people.

It was a love marriage. But our first love is always to do something for the physically disabled persons,” she says.

Fuelled by a desire to prove that physical disability is no hindrance to be self-dependent, Megha took it up as mission to help those of her ilk.

When she applied for a petrol pump of Bharat Petroleum at Nagpur, she was determined to give job opportunity in his pump to those who are physically challenged people. Running a petrol pump requires a lot of money. So the Kale couple sold of a major portion of agricultural land and borrowed loan from a cooperative Bank.

Despite government's allocation, Megha had to struggle a lot to actually get possession of the pump. Like in such cases, at every step she met black sheep across the red tape. But then there were certain good souls too and finally the petrol pump on the busy Ring Road took shape in 2004.

Of the 10 physically disabled people employed by her (Her manager is only the able person in her pump --- for liaisoning with government departments and customers), three are girls – all of whom belong to poor financial background. She says the reason to employ girls was to instil a spirit of self-belief in them that they were not parasites and was able to financially support their families.

And despite it being a tough job, her colleagues have not let her down. The service offered by them at the petrol pump has been commended time and again by the customers, who are greeted with a smile and in turn, these workers earn respect from them.

First Published: Apr 05, 2007 18:43 IST