Chhattisgarh: E-rickshaws drive a change in the lives of Dantewada's tribal women

Poor tribal women in the conflict zone of Dantewada in south Chhattisgarh have found mobility, freedom, self-esteem and prosperity — all in the humble e-rickshaw.

Published: 03rd February 2018 11:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th February 2018 09:23 AM   |  A+A-

E-rickshaws have made tribal women in Dantewada self-reliant | Express Photo

DANTEWADA: Poor tribal women in the conflict zone of Dantewada in south Chhattisgarh have found mobility, freedom, self-esteem and prosperity — all in the humble e-rickshaw. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme on January 28, lauded the adivasi women of Dantewada, which has witnessed a notable social change after they took up driving e-rickshaws.

Savita, 30, is one of the women driving the change. Her eyes filled with tears as she narrated how her husband had abandoned her and their three-year-old daughter when she was just 23. She had to fend for herself and the child by working as a labourer, earning barely Rs 1,500 per month. “I now earn around Rs 16,000 a month, after being part of the Danteshwari service for the past one year. Being economically empowered also brings self-esteem. I now own a house and my daughter goes to school,” Savita said.
Owing to their circumstances, many tribal women do not study beyond class 5, but several of them are now earning Rs 400-600 daily.

Many, like Savita, have gained confidence and self-esteem by driving e-rickshaws, which have made them not only self-reliant, but also a source of inspiration to others.

Dantewada collector Saurabh Kumar and the then district chief executive officer, Gaurav Singh, pioneered the Danteshwari Sewa scheme a year ago as a means to empower destitute and needy women through self-help groups (SHGs).

“Women in Dantewada are learning a new way of life by involving themselves in demand-based sustainable economic activities. The e-rickshaws offer their services in rural areas where roads exist but there is no regular public transport. The women are self-employed and self-sustainable enough to lead their families,” the collector said.

The district administration provided e-rickshaws to SHGs at subsidised rates. Their members got training and licences before they started driving.

“The Danteshwari e-rickshaw is not just a source of income for tribal women but also a tool to connect their remote villages to the mainstream. Each rickshaw covers three to four villages daily on its given route. The women also contribute part of their income to their SHGs,” Singh said.

There are more than 65 e-rickshaws running under the scheme. These are of immense help to businessmen, who often have to travel to the city, and also to students, housewives, patients and other needy commuters.


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