'Officials don't care about night shelters'

Blame game between NGO and authorities

Despite several letters written by an NGO on lack of of fans and fumigation at night shelters, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board has not taken any action yet, complain members of the voluntary organisation.

But the DUSIB has blamed the non-governmental organisation itself, asking why it had taken on the responsibility of running the shelters if it couldn’t maintain them.
The Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) has been writing to DUSIB since May regarding non-operational fans in shelters.

“Even the High Court order on May 20 had asked DUSIB to ensure that all shelters have functional fans. But the fans were not working till July-end and people used to sleep in these shelters without them during the peak summer-time,” said Indu Singh, an IGSSS member.

The NGO is currently responsible for the maintenance of six temporary shelters and two permanent ones in places like Lodhi Road, Bangla Sahib Road, Majnu Ka Tila and Nigam Bodh.  

IGSSS’ September 26 letter reads: “An office order (by the government) states in the first para that the Government of Delhi has decided that DUSIB shall function as the nodal agency for implementation of various schemes for the welfare of the homeless.”

The letter states, “It will coordinate with other departments like MCD, health, social welfare, women & child development, urban development department, and revenue department and NGOs to ensure that various welfare measures being independently taken by the department effectively reach the homeless.”

DUSIB doesn’t agree

However, DUSIB does not agree with the government’s order. “Our work is to take care of night shelters. The maintenance of these shelters has been given to NGOs. We do not have any responsibility towards the homeless,” said A K Sharma, director night shelter, DUSIB.

In a recent letter to DUSIB, IGSSS pointed out that fumigation is not being done at any of the night shelters. But DUSIB in its reply has blamed the NGO for the absence of these facilities.

“If you are unable to maintain these night shelters why these shelters should not be withdrawn from your organisation for the deficiency in the services?” said DUSIB.

However, Singh argues that since DUSIB is the nodal agency, it has to support the voluntary organisations in ensuring that services are delivered to the homeless.

“We are taking care of the issues inside the shelters but if the municipal corporation does not fumigate outside and if they do not listen to us whom should we complain to?” Singh said.

The Joint Allocation Account Committee meeting is supposed to be held on October 31.
“We are hoping that these issues will be put across the table as the problem is relevant to all 150 shelters in Delhi,” added Singh.

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