In the rural parts of Maharashtra, another set of 15 buses for transporting girls in the select eight talukas of the district will be added by the state government, under its Manav Vikas Mission (MVM) initiative to provide free bus service for girl students. At present, there are 40 buses deployed for transporting girl students in MVM-selected eight talukas, free of cost. . Under the MVM, the district has 40 buses ferrying girl students to and from the schools in remote areas with an aim to provide them better access to education. The fleet of 15 buses will be added by July.
The demand for the buses was rising and hence, they have decided to start 15 more buses (excluding Surgana taluka) to ensure that most of the girl students get easy access to schools. The eight talukas selected under the MVM include Igatpuri, Trimbakeshwar, Surgana, Peth, Kalwan, Dindori, Baglan and Nandgaon. The criteria for selection of the talukas where the 13-point MVM is being implemented were women literacy levels, lower human development index and population below poverty line. The eight talukas are among the 127 bottom-most talukas selected state-wide where the programme is being implemented. The state government has given funds worth Rs 2 crore per taluka, per year for implementation of such schemes. Special measures have been taken to raise key parameters of health, education and livelihood in these select talukas. Accordingly, Trimbakeshwar taluka will get a new bus, while the remaining seven talukas – Igatpuri, Surgana, Peth, Kalwan, Dindori, Baglan and Nandgaon – will get two buses each. The bus routes have been decided and will be operated by the MSRTC. The corporation will used these buses for commercial operations during non-school timings.
On the structure of bus routes, the blue-coloured buses run by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation were meant to carry girl students only to schools and back at the time of the assembly and after they leave the schools. The buses must ferry girl students free of cost and take boy students and other passengers only if there is space left. The boys and other passengers have to pay the fares as applicable from time to time. There was an overwhelming response to the bus service and hence it had been decided to increase the number of buses. As of now, there are 40 buses plying on 363 villages in eight talukas, which ferry 4,659 girl students daily to 139 schools by covering a distance of 3,634 km.
The MSRTC officials said they were ready to induct the additional buses in the new routes which will further help the cash-starved state-carrier to provide better services in the remote areas of the district.