Efforts are on to enhance the representation of the transgender (TG) community at Kochi metro stations from the present 14 to 60 when the services are extended to Pettah in less than two years.
For the record, Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) had deployed a total of 23 TG people when the project was commissioned in June. Based on their educational qualifications, they were imparted soft skills training by Kudumbasree, while the metro agency trained them in managing ticket counters and handling housekeeping work. However, nine of them left midway citing reasons like inadequate pay. “We decided to recruit TG people, a first in any metro system in the country as a social experiment and to ensure social inclusion. This, in a way, resulted in their problems being highlighted at the national level. The 14 TG people who are working with us are happy with their work,” said a KMRL spokesperson.
On the demand for wage hike, she said TG people were paid on par with members of the regular workforce. “They cannot be paid more, since workers manning Kochi metro stations are paid much better than their counterparts in Delhi and Chennai. Our aim is to increase the number of TG people in the metro to 60 when the Pettah extension is completed, around two years down the lane,” she said.
According to her, there were even enquiries from TG community members settled in north Indian States. “But we cannot recruit them, as the verification of antecedents by the Kerala Police is mandatory,” she added. Preference is given to those living in Kochi city. The district mission coordinator of Kudumbasree said as many as 20 TG people had already applied for two posts in the Kochi metro. If necessary, they can be imparted training along with the regular workforce who will man stations in the Palarivattom-Maharaja’s College Ground corridor, which is set for commissioning in the first week of October, the official added.
The recruitment and training of regular employees will begin after Onam, based on their rank in the test conducted by Kudumbasree earlier this year. “We are willing to train any number of TG people for deployment in the metro system,” Kudumbasree sources said.