From a boxer to a school teacher, about 11 women drivers will be seen at the wheel of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses from Wednesday. This will be the first time that the city’s public transport fleet will see these many women drivers.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot Tuesday issued letters of appointment to the 11 women drivers who will be deployed at various DTC depots such as Nangloi, Mundka, Peeragarhi, Nand Nagri and East Vinod Nagar.
Among them is Seema Thakur (40), a homemaker and mother of two children. She said she was demotivated by her husband and in-laws who said she cannot handle a bus as she is a woman.
“I studied up to class 12 and then I got married. At that time, I wanted to study further but neither my in-laws nor my husband supported me… Five-six years ago, I got to know from friends that there is an NGO that provides free training in driving to all women. I took it up and started my career as a cab driver,” she said.
The women also requested the Delhi government to give them permanent jobs as drivers in the coming months for stability. Sharmila Sharma from Haryana said, “Although neighbours used to say things about women driving buses, I had full support from my husband. He works as a labourer and we have two children, now I can support my family as well. I am thankful to the transport minister, but my request is to regularise us.”
Nitu Devi (25) worked as a teacher but lost her job during the pandemic. “My father died four years ago and since then my mother, an anganwadi worker, provided for the family. I hope the government will regularise us soon,” she said.
Meanwhile, another driver, Pooja, who said she was a boxer, said: “I will continue to play at the local and national level if I get an opportunity. I always wanted to do something different, and I got to know about the Delhi government’s initiative. I am happy to be a bus driver and set an example for other women.”
For Babita Dhawan, who has driven tractors and bikes, handling a bus will be a first. “I am a farmer’s daughter… They have provided us with training, including how to behave with passengers,” she said. On her salary, she said, “During training, we got Rs 12,000 per month. Now, we will get paid on a per km basis…”
Welcoming them, Gahlot said: “I am hopeful they will inspire more women to become bus drivers with the DTC.” He added that the government will appoint more women drivers in phases. Meanwhile, CM Arvind Kejriwal will inaugurate 97 electric buses tomorrow, taking the fleet to 198.