Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off Kerala’s much-awaited Kochi metro train project on June 17. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirmed the date on Monday late night, Kerala chief minister’s office said. The Rs 5,182-crore Kochi Metro Rail has been hogging international headlines for being the first public utility organisation to reserve jobs for transgenders, when it gave training and appointment to 23 transgender people for jobs ranging from housekeeping to ticket counter work. Over 600 trained women from the ‘Kudumbasree Mission’ have been employed to ensure the smooth run of the first phase of the metro. Of the total of 39 people hired to operate the metro rakes, seven are women.
Global media, including the Guardian and Voice of America, have been all praise for the social justice to transgenders and women, integrated to a major infrastructure project. “Shunned by mainstream society and denied of job opportunities, transgender persons are often forced to languish in acute poverty. Being in a job position of daily interaction with the public will help to end the stigma and get them their rightful economic opportunities,” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told FE.
But as usual there had to be some controversy. After a State Minister announced that the inauguration would coincide with the first anniversary celebration of LDF Government, the BJP Kerala leadership had alleged that CPI(M)-led LDF government was gearing up to inaugurate the project when the PM was away on European tour, so that it could take the full credit of the project.
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However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan promptly put an end to the spat saying that the state government would wait for the PM’s date. With PM agreeing to do the honours on June 17, the row has been quelled once and for all, in a happy picture of rare political consensus.
The inaugural function is set to be held at Aluva leg of the 13-km Aluva-Palarivattom corridor in Ernakulam district, sources in CMO said. Kochi Metro, which secured the green signal from rail safety panel, had begun service trials recently on the corridor.