For 10 rescued boys, it’s the highway to better life
TIMES NEWS NETWORK New Delhi/Gurgaon:
The opening of the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway will surely bring smiles to the faces of over 1.25 lakh commuters who use the road daily. But for a group of 10 young men, all runaway street children given shelter by Salam Balak Trust, the opening of the expressway translates to a fresh lease of life.
Amidst all the last-minute preparations on Tuesday, the 10 youngsters sat comfortably in their seats at the 32-lane toll plaza, having been employed by DS Constructions to man the toll gates once the collection process begins. ‘‘We are completely ready for operation. I know it is going to be a big day but somehow, there is no stress. As far as I am concerned, they can start the toll collection right away,’’ said 22-year-old Ashtam Kumar, who was rescued from the streets 10 years ago by the trust.
Added 20-year-old Ram Kishan, who ran away from home when he was just six years old: ‘‘We had worked at a toll plaza in Raipur-Durg for two years before we were sent to Delhi. This toll plaza is more modern and the number of cars passing through is also much more. So we have been trained to work faster so that there are no jams.’’
For the past two days, they have been sitting at the gates, informing commuters that toll collection hasn’t started as yet. ‘‘We have been trained to talk to commuters politely and never get into an argument, even if the boom bar falls,’’ said Sandeep Thakur, another youth.
By reserving 10 per cent of the manpower required to man the toll gates for the economically and socially underprivileged, the developer hopes to fulfil its corporate social responsibility and also provide a source of livelihood to those recruited by hiring these boys. Of the 250 tolling men required, the 10 youths from SBT have already been trained for the job.
The youths have undergone a monthlong training on the technology and operations of the toll gates and will draw a salary of about Rs 9,600.