Homeless death toll alarming

7,000 people died from 2007 to 2011

 According to a Right to Information reply received from Delhi Police, 6,861 homeless deaths were reported from 2007 to 2011 across five districts, activists said on Wednesday.

“Out of the total number there were 4,748 males, 277 females and 105 children’s deaths in Delhi. In addition, 1,731 of these deaths were unclassified.

This is an extremely alarming number, especially as it is likely to be even higher as Delhi has 11 districts,” said S A Azad, from Campaign for Rehabilitation of Homeless People.

 “The lack of government attention to these deaths, year after year, reflects a glaring insensitivity of the state to the homeless,” Azad said.

On the basis of statistics received from the RTI reply in June, when rights groups approached the National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women and Delhi Commission for Women recently regarding the shelters for women in the Capital, the institutions said they were not responsible for the welfare of the homeless.

“In response, the NCW said it has no details about the number of homeless women in the city. The DCW said it had not done anything on the issue of homeless women,” said Indu Singh, an activist with Indo-Global Social Service Society.

 “But it is shocking that NHRC also claimed that they have no information about the allocation of funds in the past five years for rehabilitation of the homeless,” added Singh.

Others pointed out that government institutions have been violating court orders and no arrangements for the homeless  have been made ahead of the winter season.
“The government needs to act expeditiously to ensure that court orders are implemented and the rights of homeless women are protected as a priority.

These women are living on the streets which are considered as most unsafe,” said Ameeta Joseph from Business and Community Foundation.

Shivani Chaudhry from Housing and Land Right Network pointed out that the government has done no mapping of the homeless people.

“We have to depend on Unites Nation organisations to get the exact number of homeless in the city and even across India,” Chaudhary said.

“Homeless die throughout the year but during winter it is worse. But who do we hold accountable for this neglect?” she said.

Activists added that Delhi government and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board are mostly at loggerheads over providing more facilities to homless and maintaining shelter homes.

Rights groups have demanded investigation into these deaths of homeless, and implementation of the winter plan as per high court’s 2010
directive.

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