Chhattisgarh, October 3, 2017: On October 2, Dantewada saw women take to the roads in 51 eco-friendly rickshaws, a new initiative by the Raman Singh-led government to bring power back to the people.
Named Dantewada Advanced Network of Transport Empowered SHG, the initiative seeks support from about 200 self-help groups (SHG) and aims to introduce affordable public transport facility in the interiors of one of the worst hit Naxal regions of the country.
At present, 51 eco-friendly e-rickshaws have begun operations that are run by women from the tribal communities of the region.
Almost brought to shambles under the grip of
the Naxalite activity, the initiative is a first of its kind,
designed by the Dantewada district administration to
revive the crumbling region by providing employment to
women from remote villages in the district.
Apart from empowering women, the move is also aimed at eliminating the physical distances between villages that are cut off from the mainland, thereby allowing quick movement for the villagers.
Additionally, the e-rickshaws will also provide services to aid pregnant women if an ambulance fails to reach on time.
“I am happy and excited to operate an e-rickshaw. Instead of sitting at home, we will also earn some money by operating the service in the village.”
– Pushpa Lata, presently learning to drive an e-rickshaw told Times of India
The project has been designed keeping in view the safety measures obligatory in the Naxal-prone district. The e-rickshaws have been equipped with smartphones for communication during emergencies.
The district administration is also undertaking all necessary measures to sustain a smooth functioning of the project. For the same, the selected women from the tribal communities were made to undergo driving lessons and road safety training.
These women, who are expected to earn Rs. 200-300 on an average daily, belong to the extreme Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in an attempt for income to reach where it is most required.
“We’ve started earning slowly and haven’t faced any problem in driving. This is encouraging; things will hopefully be good now.”
– Driver Sukmati told ANI
The project is estimated to incur a cost of over Rs. 1.70 lakh; 20 per cent of the funding for each rickshaw is to be borne by the SHGs while the rest of the 80 per cent will be upheld by the District Mineral Fund (DMF).
Additionally, ten charging stations have also been planned to set up for easy charging of the vehicles.
The district administration plans to expand the service to other villages in a phased manner.