Kochi to have first of three facilities to be set up in State

Taking in to account the plight of the travelling women and the increasing number of atrocities against the fairer sex, the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation (KSWDC) has decided to set up guest houses for travelling women, for whom the biggest challenge is to find a safe and affordable place for overnight stay, in all three major cities in the State.

“The first one will come up in Kochi since we have enough land and a suitable structure, which is already functioning as a working women’s hostel. While the working women’s hostel at Gandhi Nagar near the south railway station will be given a facelift and continue to operate, a new floor to be set up atop it will function as the guesthouse,” KSWDC chairperson P. Kulsu told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The Kerala State Nirmithi Kendra has drawn up an estimate of Rs. 78 lakh for a 5,000-sq.ft facility. KSWDC officials said the Nirmithi Kendra will be given work order for the construction of the proposed guesthouses as soon as the State government allocates funds. Finer details like number of rooms and tariff will be decided only later.

Ms. Kulsu said that assistance has been sought for the project in the forthcoming State budget. She said the proposed guesthouse will be operated by KSWDC directly in the same fashion as it runs its working women’s hostels across the State on a no-profit, no-loss basis.

The existing double-storeyed women’s hostel in the city has the capacity to accommodate more than 100 inmates. Since the hostel is also not in an ideal condition, its maintenance will be given prominence along with the guesthouse project.

‘Desperate need’

Hunt is on for finding appropriate land for similar guesthouses in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. Kozhikode city, Ms. Kulsu said, is in desperate need for such a lodging facility, as KSWDC does not even have a working women’s hostel within the city limits.

Lack of funds is the main hurdle to the realisation of setting up guesthouses in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. Unlike Kochi, the KSWDC does not have its own land or structures in these cities.

“We are also planning to approach the Union government for the guesthouse project provided the State government gives a guarantee. But for the State to do that, we will have to complete our pending audit. We are hopeful of completing the audit works within a month,” Ms. Kulsu said.

She said that guesthouses for travelling women was a long cherished dream, as she herself had experienced difficulty in finding a safe place for overnight stay in the past. It was not easy to get rooms in government guesthouses or rest houses even in her official capacity,, Ms. Kulsu said.

Meanwhile, working women who often had to travel alone appreciated the endeavour. “In fact, why limiting such facilities to three cities as there is demand for it even in other towns,” said Anupama, a Thrissur-based IT professional working in Bangalore.

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