Kochi Metro – Kudumbasree, Partners for Inclusive Planning

Kochi Metro is the newest implemented mass rapid transit system in the country. Its construction began in June 2013 and a 13.4 km long section on the line between Aluva and Palarivattom was inaugurated on 17th June 2017. A second 5 km stretch between Palarivattom and Maharaja’s College is slated to open in August 2017. Kochi Metro is also working to make the system socially inclusive by working with Kudumbasree. Together, they are working to hire women and transgender individuals in the operational management of the metro system.

Kudumbasree Logo (Source: http://www.kudumbashree.org/)

Kudumbasree is a community organisation of Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs) of women in Kerala. It has been recognised as an effective strategy for the empowerment of women in rural as well as urban areas (Krishnakumar, 2015). The mission of Kudumbasree is “to eradicate absolute poverty in ten years through concerted community action under the leadership of local governments, by facilitating organisation of the poor for combining self-help with demand-led convergence of available services and resources to tackle the multiple dimensions and manifestations of poverty, holistically”. There are several strategies undertaken by the organisation to achieve its mission, which include formation of women collectives, skill upgrade training, provision of better living conditions -infrastructural facilities, micro-enterprises for sustainable economic development, etc.

Last year, KMRL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kudumbasree for the management of its station premises including ticketing, customer relations, housekeeping, parking management and running the canteens of KMRL. The MoU was signed in the presence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and minister for Local Self Government K T Jaleel during the Chief Minister’s visit to KMRL office for reviewing the project (PTI, 2016).

Elias George, Managing Director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (Source: http://fiftyshadesofgay.co.in/kerala-kochi-metro-to-offer-jobs-to-transgenders/)

Two major initiatives taken by the Kochi Metro, which makes it unique are:

  • This is the first time a government owned organization in the country has formally appointed twenty three transgender persons (John & Das, 2017),
  • Kochi metro will have more women employees; it will be a women run metro.

People will be hired on an experimental basis after a security screening by police and the women employees appointed will be give

n special training by the police. On the decision of including transgender, Elias George, KMRL Managing Director said, “Transgenders face lot of difficulties. They are forced into undesirable occupations. So as an experiment, we have developed an idea to rehabilitate them. Under Kudumbasree itself, we have planned to employ transgender in Kochi metro. We know that our experiment will be a success,” Mr. George reaffirmed that if this experiment turns out to be a success, they would incorporate the same for the water metro project (Ashtputre, 2016).

Kerala government has previously worked on social inclusion of transgender community. Last year, Kerala unveiled a Transgender Policy, with the view towards protecting the rights of transgender and ending the stigma towards the community. The idea behind the policy is to ensure that transgender have equal access to social and economic opportunities, resources and services, and right to live life without violence (Singh, 2016).

Kochi Metro (Source: http://fiftyshadesofgay.co.in/kerala-kochi-metro-to-offer-jobs-to-transgenders/)