A woman fills up a car tank at Kukhri Service Station in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Nov. 18: Tank this up.
Seven years ago, a group of Gorkha women associated with Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP)-I stepped up the gas for women empowerment by coming forward to run a petrol pump. Seven years on, they have become the role models, inspiring many other gas stations across the state capital to hire women employees.
The Kukhri Service Station, located near Rajendra Chowk in the state capital, was set up by the then JAP inspector-general, Manjari Jaruhar, in 2003 for providing a source of income to the jawans’ wives. Since then, 17 women, all members of Kukhri Mahila Sahyog Samiti, have been manning the petrol refuelling section of the pump.
And the women are doing a splendid job — they are not only earning hefty profits, but have also bagged a certificate of merit from Indian Oil Corporation last October.
“We are the first women in Ranchi and probably in this region to run a petrol pump. Now, after seeing our success, several other petrol pump owners have hired women workers at their refuelling stations in the past two years,” said Meena Gurung, the secretary of Kukhri Mahila Sahyog Samiti who has been working at the refuelling station since its inception.
Some of these petrol pumps are Sambhabi Refuelling Centre, Jayant Petrol Pump, Srihari Petrol Pump and Friends Petrol Pump. “Five women work at my petrol pump. They are the relatives of JAP-I jawans, who have died in different incidents, especially Naxalite-triggered violence,” said Gautam Ghosh, owner of Friends Petrol Pump.
What about the big money the Gorkha women make at the Kukhri pump? “Yes, we earn a handsome profit of well over Rs 2 lakh per month. But a major chunk of the sum goes to the welfare fund of JAP-I. We just get our monthly salary,” said Gurung, whose husband is a havildar with JAP-I.
Her income — roughly around Rs 2,500 a month — helps her provide better food and clothes to her family besides maintaining a motorbike.
“Though our remuneration is not that high, it helps us share the financial burden with our husbands,” said Shanti Pradhan, who too has been with the pump since 2003.
“JAP-I has a welfare fund, where the profit is deposited. Children of Gorkha jawans who are good in studies are given scholarship from this fund. We also provide money to those who need help for treatment of their ailing family members. Students who want soft loans for higher studies get monetary assistance too,” said Ravi Kant Dhan, the commandant of JAP-I.
Most police vehicles refuel from Kukhri Service Station. This apart, several vehicles of government departments also tank up here.
The diesel refuelling section at the pump, however, continues to be manned by men. “The auto-rickshaw drivers behave badly. This is why we had to hire men for this section,” said sub-inspector Mani Kumar Limbo, manager-in-charge of the petrol pump.