Mumbai: Urmila Patil (41) is one of the 20 women who had received permits to ply the women-only salmon-orange (called Aboli in Marathi) autos in Mira-Bhayandar, this year. As per the government’s initiative, women drivers would predominantly serve women commuters, although there is no bar on male passengers using these autos. However a few months later, except for Ms Patil, all the other women-only autos have disappeared from the streets of the twin-city.
Most of the newly issued salmon-orange autos for women drivers are being reportedly misused by males who have changed the mandated colour to the standard yellow and black. Not even bothering to drive their autos for a single shift, the permit holders have instead turned the women oriented scheme into a lucrative business by renting out their vehicles to others, often at rates as high as rs 1 lakh per year.
“Being the sole earning member of the family, which includes my mother and a college-going daughter, I am really lucky that I got the opportunity of becoming financially independent. However, it would have been much better if other female permit holders would have also joined me,” said Ms Patil, who never forgets to mention and thank her male counterparts for their co-operation, and the operators at the CNG pumps for giving her preference. While around 6,000 auto rickshaws have been issued valid permits by the authorities, many others are believed to be illegally plying in the twin-city.