I’m stubborn by nature. Once I decide to do something, I don’t stop till I have achieved my goal,” says a determined-looking Yamuna Raju Pawar. She’s the first woman in the city to get behind the wheel of a road-roller, but she’s still only a ‘bigari’ (helper).
For the past year, she has stopped driving road-rollers and is instead working as a peon with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) till she is appointed as a proper driver.
|Woman Pawar: Yamuna still gets to work an hour early and
cleans the road-roller
Yamuna, who hails from Walhe shot to fame about seven years ago, when a press photographer snapped her trying to drive a road-roller in Dattawadi and published it on Women’s Day. She was just a helper and barely literate, but her observation skills were sharp.
She had done plenty of hard work as a helper — cleaned roads for resurfacing, carried loads of construction material and deposited hot asphalt on the road. Driving a road-roller couldn’t be all that much harder for this gutsy woman whose husband, a watchman with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) died at a young age.
“People congratulated me when the photo appeared, but my boss issued me a memo for trying to drive the heavy machine,” Yamuna remembers.
That didn’t deter her though - she approached the municipal commissioner and got permission to drive the vehicle, albeit still as a helper.
Now, she wants a promotion and two corporators have come forward to help her. Dhananjay Jadhav of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Ravindra Malvadkar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have moved a resolution before the city improvement committee to appoint her as a road-roller driver in the PMC. The committee has forwarded the proposal to the administration for opinion.
Jadhav told Pune Mirror that Yamuna has been working in the PMC for the last 20 years as helper. If she is appointed a road-roller driver, she will be the first official woman road-roller driver in the state. “I hope she gets the promotion,” he added.
Deputy municipal commissioner K C Karkar, told Mirror that the proposal forwarded by the city improvement committee is under consideration and that he will soon send his opinion. “The problem in Yamuna’s case is that she is ‘bigari’ and the post of road-roller driver is filled by promoting drivers, a category to which she does not belong,” he said.
On Yamuna’s part, she’s just waiting to get back to work as a full-time driver.
“It is demanding work, but I love it. I don’t get tired,” she said. Even now, when she has stopped driving the road-roller and is working as a peon, she reaches office an hour before her reporting time and cleans the machine before anybody arrives.
“I have agriculture land in Walhe. Every year, I visit village and till the three-acre land on a tractor,” she says enthusiastically.
However, it is driving a road-roller on the streets that really excited her.
“I still have ten years of service left. I want a better salary and pension. I have raised my children and they have their own lives now, so I am free to do what I really enjoy,” she said.
Widowed at a young age, Yamuna was working as a helper to a road-roller driver.
Seven years ago, she was snapped by a press photographer, trying to drive a
The photo made her famous, but her boss issued her a memo
She then approached the municipal commissioner for permission to drive the machine
Now, she wants to be promoted to a proper driver’s position
► It is demanding work, but I love it. I still have 10 yrs of service left and I want a better salary.
- Yamuna Raju Pawar