If all proceeds as planned, 10 Maharashtrian cities—including Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur—will soon have pink e-rickshaws operated by female drivers. Ajit Pawar, the deputy chief minister and minister of finance, has received a plan from the women and child department to this effect. Under the plan, the government will subsidise unemployed women by 20% so they can purchase rickshaws; they will be responsible for 10% of the total cost, with bank loans covering the remaining 70%.

Known as “Pink Rickshaws,” the program will not only give impoverished women in urban areas a way to make ends meet but also meet the need for safe transportation options for women, as stated by women and child development minister Aditi Tatkare during her presentation. Per officials, Pawar responded favourably to the plan.

The department of women and child development commissioner, Dr. Prashant Narnaware, announced that 5,000 pink rickshaws have been suggested for the program’s first year. Mumbai city, Mumbai suburb, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Panvel, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Chatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, and Nagpur will all be served by these rickshaws.

Women candidates will only be required to contribute 10% of the rickshaw’s cost, according to the proposed scheme. According to Narnaware, the remaining 70% would be financed by bank loans, with a 20% subsidy from the state government. He stated that because e-rickshaws are more maintenance-free and environmentally beneficial, the department has suggested including them in the pink rickshaw program.

The plan was vehemently rejected by Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Taximen’s Union President Shashank Rao, who declared, “These are nothing but fancy ideas or stunts.” We have to acknowledge that a lot of ladies still possess permits to ride in regular rickshaws. Many of them are making money by leasing their cars to others.

He claimed that the pink rickshaw concept was flawed because only women were allowed to operate these vehicles. Therefore, Rao stated, “the women cannot lease out such rickshaws if they fall ill or have any other problem.” He pointed out that conventional rickshaw permits would be a better way for the government to empower women.

The idea to provide gender-specific rickshaws is not new. A few years prior, the state administration had announced with great excitement the “Aboli Rickshaw” program for women. The program did not provide subsidies; instead, applicants had to pay 15% of the vehicle’s cost through the program, with bank loans covering the other 85%. Despite being target-based and concentrated on metropolises, the initiative was a failure, and today there are very few “aboli rickshaws” in Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai.