New Delhi: Defying all the obstacles in their path of prosperity, these Delhi women behind the steering are scripting their success stories. In a remarkable step to increase their representation in Delhi’s transportation fleet, 13 new women drivers will drive the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus fleet. DTC now has a total of 34 women drivers driving the buses in the city; one of the highest in any state in India.
Out of the 13 women drivers who received a letter of appointment recently, Abita Mishra originally hails from Bihar, Laxmi Rawat is from Uttar Pradesh, Asha Rani is from West Bengal and Neetu Devi is from Rajasthan. Nirmala Devi, Rekha, Lata Rathour, Rajkumari, Meena and Maya Devi are from Delhi while 3 women drivers - Nisha, Sonia and Usha Rani are from Haryana.
The letter of appointment was handed over to these trained women drivers by Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot at an event at Rajghat Depot. During the event, when the 13 new women drivers were asked by the Transport Minister about their motivation for being a DTC driver, many inspiring stories were revealed.
Thanking the Delhi Government, Abita Mishra said, “Hamein kuen ke medak se udta parinda bana diya”. Another woman driver, Usha Rani said, “She has won a National level Weightlifting medal.” Laxmi Rawat said, “Since 2017, I have been a cab driver. My dream was to drive a bus, but I don’t have the money for training fees. After hearing about the training program of the Delhi government, I joined it and now I am fulfilling my dreams.”
Kailash Gahlot stated, “Each of these 34 women drivers in Delhi’s transportation fleet is an inspiration and a role model for all women across India. Delhi has been focused on empowering women and taking a lead in the public transportation of the city. I am very hopeful that more participation of women in the City's fleet across Buses, Taxis and Autos will make the roads of Delhi safer and passenger friendly.”
The Delhi government has been consistently working on inducting more women as bus drivers under its city transportation fleet. 10 women out of the 13 women given a letter of appointment have joined after receiving training under the Delhi government’s “Mission Parivartan” initiative. A total of 17 women are now part of DTC, as a result of this initiative, while the rest 17 women have been recruited directly by DTC.
In April 2022, Gahlot had kicked off “Mission Parivartan”, an initiative to train women to obtain their Heavy Motor Vehicle (HMV) licences. The programme is currently providing training to its 4th batch of women candidates, having already completed training of 123 women till date.
The government in July also launched a scheme to provide financial support to women willing to take driver training to become professional taxi drivers in the future. As per the decision made by the government, 50% of the training i.e. approximately Rs 4800 for each woman is being borne by the Transport Department.
The training of women is conducted at in-house driving training centers set up by the Delhi government at Burari, Loni and Sarai Kale Khan. As per the initiative, the government had invited fleet owners and aggregators to sponsor the remaining 50% of the training cost for women seeking driving employment in these companies.
In February, the government relaxed the norms and eligibility criteria to recruit women as drivers within its bus operations. It reduced the minimum height criteria from 159 cm to 153 cm and the ‘experience criteria’ for induction as bus drivers to one month for women applicants. The step increased opportunities for women employment within the combined fleet strength of approximately 7379 buses in DTC and DIMTS. The move also opened the door for women to be employed within the 15,000-strong workforce of bus drivers within the state’s public transportation.