Eighteen-year-old Nil-ofer Shaikh,daughter of a construction labourer staying in Pimpri-Chinchwad who cleared her Class 12 exam wants to pursue her graduation but the family is against her further education. They cannot foot her college fee or daily bus fares.
We may somehow manage to pay the college fees by borrowing from relatives. How do we pay the fare every day? I dont earn much every day, said her mother.
Free bus passes for college students up to graduation,girls from poor families in particular,has been a popular demand but the city transport body Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) has no plans to include them in the free pass scheme. The scheme has been on for some years and is applicable only to students from Class 5 to Class 10.
PMPML spokesperson Deepak Pardeshi said free passes for students will continue this year,too,for students up to Class 10. There are no plans to extend it to Class 12 or graduation. If the two civic bodies provide us extra money,we will be able cover them. We are waiting for the two civic bodies to take a decision, he said.
Pune Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak said they were already paying Rs 16 crore annually to PMPML and would not provide any extra money. If PMPML wants to do it on its own,it can go ahead. But we will not provide more money…If we extend it to college students,then there will be a demand for including senior citizens too, he said.
Civic officials might not be in favour of helping girl students from economically weaker sections (EWS),but mayors of both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad are ready to take the initiatve if it is going to reduce dropout rates in colleges.
Several girls from poor families shun college education as their parents do not money to bear the burden of daily bus fares in addition to hefty college fees. If families somehow manage to cobble up the college fee,then the bus fare that has been increasing over the years stares at them in the face, said Pimpri-Chinchwad Mayor Mohini Lande.
The mayor said she will talk to the civic administration and urge it to make more funds available to the PMPML so that girls from EWS get free passes up to graduation. Pune Mayor Vaishali Bankar said she will take the initiative in this direction. If the civic chief is not in favour of this,then he is wrong. PMC officials do not pay from their pockets. If PMC is paying to PMPML,that will be citizens money collected as taxes. I will meet the commissioner and urge him to make more money available to PMPML in the interest of poor girl students, she said.
Prashant Inamdar,convener of Pedestrians First,said it is not necessary to extend the scheme to girl students from affluent families. Some critieria like a family income less than Rs 1 lakh should be fixed. This way only girls from poor families can benefit, he said.
Free passes from July 2
PMPML spokesperson Pardeshi said application forms for free passes will be available from June 20 to June 27. The passes will be distributed from July 2. He said the students will have to submit the forms,two passport size photos,photocopy of ration card/ identity proof. A letter from the school principal is mandatory. Schools have also been advised to submit a list of students seeking free passes. The scheme is applicable to students staying in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic body jurisdiction. For further information schools should contact: Vijaysinh Pardeshi on 988 149 5572 (Swargate depot),Satish Gavahane on 9763728244 (Narveer Tanaji wadi depot),Chandrakant Varpe on 9881492021 (Kothrud depot),Dattatraya Zende on 9881495583 (Katraj),Kumarji Thorve on 9881495585 (Hadapsar),Kailas Gawde on 9881495574 (Market Yard),Ramesh Sonawane on 9763728245 (Pune station),Satish G on 9881495552 (Bhakti Shakti),S B Waghere on 9921123232 (Sant Tukaram Nagar),Vikram Shitole on 9881495567 (Sadgurunagar),Rajaram Kand on 9763723556 (headquarter).