'Homeless need more shelters'

Three new shelters to come up, rights groups say they arent enough

Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board is in the process of building three permanent shelters at Mangolpuri, Raja Garden and Mehrauli, officials said. 

“The work is in process. This year we have not built any shelters and it is highly unlikely that more shelters will be built. Also, I would like to point out here that these shelters are for everybody not just for the homeless,” said A K Sharma, director night shelter, DUSIB.

He said it was not only the department’s responsibility to cater to the homeless and the Social Welfare Department should also chip in. “Government says that it is DUSIB’s responsibility when we have been given charge for only the night shelters in Delhi,” added Sharma.

However, rights groups working for the homeless in Delhi claim that during the last hearing of the case listed in the High Court regarding less number of shelters for homeless in Delhi, the government said it is solely DUSIB’s responsibility to provide enough shelters.

The High Court took suo motu notice of the issue after reading news reports about government not doing enough for the protection of homeless, especially during winter season. “No work has still started on any new permanent shelters.

The most shocking aspect is that New Delhi Municipal Council, the richest municipal body in Asia does not even have one permanent shelter in its area,” said Indu Prakash from Indo-Global Social Service Society.

NDMC area has only one tent shelter for women and Prakash believes that NDMC officials need to provide more shelters soon as winter is not far. NDMC officials were not available for comment on this.

In the previous winter, High Court had asked the Delhi government to set up one night shelter with all facilities for every population of one lakh as provided in the Master Plan for Delhi 2021. “However, nothing has been done yet,” said Prakash.

In response to this allegation, DUSIB officials said they are giving Rs 36,600 per month to NGOs for the maintenance of shelters.

“We are complying with the HC orders. We have 150 shelters in place where 66 are permanent and rest are temporary. And we have converted the temporary ones into porta cabins, making them suitable for all seasons,” said Sharma.

Activists also alleged they had suggested using vacant government buildings as shelters such as MCD’s community centres in Shahadra, DUSIB’s community hall in Azadpur mandi among others.

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