BBMP allotted Rs 2 crore for the upliftment of the transgender community, a year and a half later the amount is still sitting in BBMP's coffers.

BBMP funds for welfare of transgender community lies unused activists cry foulFile Photo
news LGBTQIA+ Saturday, July 22, 2017 - 17:55

Despite the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) allocating a budget of Rs 2 crore for the transgender community in Bengaluru, the community has been fighting tooth and nail for the implementation of the welfare schemes promised to them. 

The 2015-16 BBMP budget mentions the allotment of Rs 2 crore for the “upliftment of the transgender community.” They, however, have been facing apathy from the Palike since 2015.

A year-and-a-half later, the amount is still sitting in the BBMP’s coffers as none of the welfare schemes that were planned have been implemented.

In the 2016-17 BBMP budget announcement, M Shivaraju, Chairman of Taxation and Finance Committee said, “Rs 2 crore from last year has been carried forward and is reserved for financial assistance, financial self reliance and educational improvement schemes and upliftment schemes to Transgender persons residing in BBMP limits.”

According to Uma, a trans-rights activist with the NGO Jeeva, after the initial announcement was made in 2015-16 BBMP budget session, the then Mayor, Manjunath Reddy, had called a meeting with representatives of various trans-rights NGOs to gather suggestions for the welfare schemes.

“We had offered suggestions as to what areas the money needs to be invested in. Transgender persons need support in education and health. We had also asked the BBMP to support transgender persons financially, if any of them wanted to undergo a sex-change procedure. The BBMP had told us to form a committee and work towards these goals,” Uma added.

That is when the NGO met with more hurdles. Due to the severe discrimination faced by the community, they were unable to find an office space to conduct operations from.

“We met with the BBMP officials and submitted a letter, requesting an office space in any of the BBMP offices. The Mayor had assured that space would be allotted but that request is still pending,” Uma said.

To make matters worse for the community, the Palike has not implemented a single scheme it had promised the transgender community in Bengaluru.

“We have written multiple letters to the Mayor and the BBMP officials but no one has responded to our requests. At one point, Manjunath Reddy, the former Mayor kept dodging us whenever we had an appointment to meet. He also stopped answering our calls. When the new Mayor, G Padmavati was elected, we requested her to look into the matter. She has also offered the same level of apathy. Now the budget allocation is only on paper,” Uma said.

In May 2017, the trans-rights activists had organised a meet in Bengaluru. Mayor Padmavati was the Chief guest.

During her speech at the meet, Padmavati resorted to blaming the members of the transgender community for the inaction.

“The funds were allocated but none of the members of the transgender community followed up with the BBMP to collect the funds. The BBMP had contacted Akkai Padmashali (trans-rights activist) but she did not respond,” Padmavati had said.

Uma and a few other trans-rights activists had visted the Mayor in June and given her their contact numbers.

“She said she did not know how to contact any of us so we gave her several numbers but none of us have received any calls,” Uma added.

According to a senior BBMP official, the Special Commissioner, Rajendra appointed by BBMP to look after welfare schemes, was transferred just a week ago as he kept pushing the cause of releasing the funds.

“The members of the BBMP Council do not want to take up any welfare programmes as they do not receive any kickbacks. For a year, Rajendra pushed the cause of the transgender community but the Mayor and the corporators of the wards do not want to release the funds as they won’t profit from it. With great difficulty, Rajendra managed to convince the BBMP zonal heads to map the transgender persons living in their areas. After the figures were submitted to the BBMP, they now had all details required for implementing the schemes and the beneficiaries were identified. When he questioned the delay, he got transferred,” the official added.

The official said that the BBMP did not want to allot funds or help the community financially for the sex-change proceedures as they felt it was “too controversial a topic”.

“Then the idea to give them laptops and provide them with computer education was brought but the lower-level officials had asked for a kickback of Rs 5,000 for each laptop and that plan failed as well. The same happened with tailoring machines,” the official added.

The Palike decided that its idea of a welfare scheme was to help the members of this community obtain drivers’ licences.

“If we want a drivers’ licences, we can apply for that on our own. We don’t need the BBMP for that. We wanted the BBMP to use the funds for welfare schemes not DLs,” Uma said.

TNM tried to contact Mayor G Padmavati multiple times but she was unavailable for comment.