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For India’s Third Gender, getting a shelter Home is an Uphill Battle

In 2014, the Supreme Court had ordered that transgenders be treated as the third gender and be given reservations on the lines of those for OBCs

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(Representational Image) Transgender, India. Image source: Sami Siva / Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
  • Kinnar Maa Samajik Sanstha Trust had requested for a separate ashram for the transgenders in Mumbai
  • The Delhi High Court had struck down Section 377 in 2009 but the Supreme Court reversed this in 2013
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court had ordered that transgenders be treated as the third gender

New Delhi– They are ostracised, humiliated and sneered at, and yet India’s transgender community continues to battle for their rights amid all opposition. Fida, a member of India’s first transgender group — 6 Pack Band – says the community in the Mumbai region aspires for an ashram of its own, but they have yet not been able to get the land for it.

According to Fida, an organisation called the Kinnar Maa Samajik Sanstha Trust had requested for a separate ashram for the transgenders in Mumbai, but they are yet to get the work done.

There are a lot of handicapped kinnars (transgenders) who are either homeless, or who have faced acid attacks. Some of them have sustained injuries after being thrown from trains while begging. There are old age ashrams, but there is nothing for the transgenders, she added.

Street protest by LGBT community. Image source: thegayfacts.com
Street protest by LGBT community. Image source: thegayfacts.com

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) criminalises homosexuality and activists of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community have been fighting a legal battle asking for the law to be revoked on grounds that it violates their human rights.

The Delhi High Court had struck down Section 377 in 2009 but the Supreme Court reversed this in 2013. It heard the matter again earlier this year but stood by its previous judgement.

Thereafter, a group of celebrities, including celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia, approached the apex court to quash the penal provision. The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to examine the fresh petition, saying it will be placed before Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur.

India LGBT Participants pose during "Queer Azadi Mumbai 2009" (Queer Freedom Mumbai 2009), a parade for gay and lesbian rights, in Mumbai August 16, 2009.REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe
India LGBT
Participants pose during “Queer Azadi Mumbai 2009” (Queer Freedom Mumbai 2009), a parade for gay and lesbian rights, in Mumbai August 16, 2009. Image source: REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

In 2014, the Supreme Court had ordered that transgenders be treated as the third gender and be given reservations on the lines of those for OBCs (other backward classes).

Last November, in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for treating transgenders with greater sensitivity. We need to amend and make new laws for transgenders, he had said.

Like several others fighting for their rights, Fida said that the trust has been battling for the last five to six years to get permission for the ashram but owing to political issues, they are yet to get this.

We have been fighting to get this ashram for the last five to six years. We have asked for an ashram in Thane, Fida told IANS on the phone from Mumbai.

Fida has now gained fame with 6 Pack Band, which won the coveted Cannes Grand Prix Glass Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival. It was given to the group for espousing a social cause. Backed by Yash Raj Films’ youth-wing Y-Films, the group has even worked with industry stalwarts like Sonu Nigam and Hrithik Roshan, who have given them support.

Fida says that she wants to use this platform to help her community.

Now people know our six-member band, but who knows the thousands of people in our community? Who will be our voice? I want to take the opportunity to play in the band to express the desires of our community in front of the public, she said.

Due to the lack of an ashram, Fida rued that the already marginalised transgender community of India is forced to beg on the streets or work at bars.

Those who are rotting on the street are still suffering, those who are working in beer bars are still stuck there. We have been ignored. We will die on the streets. The government is not giving attention to us, she said.

In 2015, the Kinnar Maa Samajik Sanstha Trust had organised a Pink Rally to demand equal rights for the transgender community in India. Fida said that despite such rallies and the support they garner, India’s transgenders are yet to find firm footing in society.

Nobody helped us. We organised the Pink Rally, but after some hulabulloo everything quietened down. Nobody does anything, she lamented.

The ostracism for transgenders in the country is so heightened, says Fida, that members of the community even find it difficult to live in rented houses.

Wherever we stay at rent, the people say, ‘Why have you kept this hijra?’ Then where do we go? That is why we need the ashram so that we can live respectfully with our own community, she noted. (IANS)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    A separate ashram could isolate them from the community in which they are living. Instead giving them homes where everybody else lives is a better idea

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Three Projects Help India to Stop its Share of Water to Pakistan after Pulwama

The waters of the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab - averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan.

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Picture Courtesy:-www.economylead.com

The government has envisaged three projects to give intent to its decision to stop its share of water from three eastern rivers of the Indus system – the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej – from going to Pakistan.

The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack though the Union cabinet had approved implementation of one of the key projects – Shahpurkandi dam – in December last year.

The waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan except for “specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India”, according to a treaty.

India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the western rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation, is unrestricted.

pakistan, india, water ban
However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. VOA

To utilise the waters of the Eastern rivers, India has constructed the Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilise nearly the entire share (95 per cent) of the eastern river waters.

However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. The other two projects are Ujh multipurpose project and the second Ravi Beas link below Ujh.

Here’s the reality check of the three projects:

Shahpurkandi Project: It aims to utilise the waters coming from powerhouse of Thein dam in order to irrigate 37,000 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab by generating 206 MW of power.

The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016. However, following a dispute between the two states, work was suspended in August 2014 but they reached an agreement last September and the construction work has now resumed with the Centre monitoring its progress. The central government had in December last year announced assistance of Rs 485 crore for the project and it would be completed by June 2022.

 

India, pakistan, pulwama, water ban
The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack. VOA

The project will create irrigation potential of 5,000 hectare in Punjab and 32,173 hectare in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

The total balance cost of pending work in ShahpurKandi Dam project is estimated Rs 1,973.53 crore (irrigation component: Rs 564.63 crore, power component Rs1408.90 crore).

The Shahpurkandi Project was initially approved by the Planning Commission in November, 2001. Revised costs were approved, but there was delay in its execution both because of lack of funds with Punjab and inter-state issues with Jammu and Kashmir.

An agreement was finally reached between the two states under the aegis of Water Resources Ministry in September last year.

Ujh multipurpose project: Construction of the Ujh multipurpose project will create a storage of about 781 million cubic metres of water on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi, for irrigation and power generation and provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 hectares in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,850 crore and the Central assistance of Rs 4,892.47 crore on works portion of irrigation component as well as the special grant is under consideration. The project is yet to be implemented and it will take about six years for completion.

Second Ravi Beas link below Ujh: The project has been planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through Ravi by constructing a barrage across it for diverting water through a tunnel link to the Beas basin.

The project is expected to utilise about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting the same to the Beas basin.

 

india, pakistan, water share, pulwama
Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Wikimedia

The water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 to use the water available in the Indus system of rivers originating in India.

 

ALSO READ: IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

The Indus system comprises Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.

Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of the three eastern rivers, averaging around 33 million acre feet (MAF), were allocated to India for exclusive use.  (IANS)