Two homeless die in cold

Rats feed on one corpse, found with its head chewed up

Two homeless persons were found dead, one of them with the head chewed up,  in Yamuna Pusta area on Wednesday morning.

 Nothing changes for the homeless this new year as the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and NGOs quibble over the preparedness to protect the poor from the bitter cold.

The authorities say proper arrangements are in place whereas NGOs blame DUSIB for such mishaps.

One of the victims appeared between 30 and 35 years, but the other’s age could not be assessed as his head was eaten up by rodents and vultures, said Praveen, member of the NGO, Centre for Development.

Both bodies were found within a distance of 30 to 40 feet from each other, said Praveen, who reported the matter at around 9.30 am. “The night shelter is only two to three minutes’ walking distance from where the bodies were found,” Praveen told Deccan Herald.

“But many homeless people are turned away as there is no space at the shelter home. Last night (Tuesday) there were around 50 people at the night shelter and some 20 people were found sleeping out in the open on Wednesday,” he said.

The DUSIB said these deaths cannot be linked to cold weather. “We are awaiting the autopsy report. Only after the report it will be clear whether the victims died of cold or due to overdose of alcohol or drugs. Many homeless people are addicts,” said DUSIB director Kamal Malhotra.

Shahri Adhikar Manch: Begharon Ke Saath, an NGO, says it has been asking DUSIB for additional shelter homes in the Yamuna Pusta area. “The DUSIB has turned a blind eye to the request,” said Indu Prakash Singh, member of the NGO. DUSIB, however, said not a single site is worth for putting up a shelter.

“The NGOs have highlighted 33 areas where they want shelter homes, but not a single site is worth for putting up a shelter. Some of the sites are ficticious and people are not willing to move to other proposed areas,” said Malhotra.

The NGOs, who put the blame on the board, themselves do not want to run shelter homes, he added. “An NGO has asked the authorities to pull out of five shelters it is running,” Malhotra added.

“We are even providing bubble sheets, which are made of insulatory material, to the homeless. How much more can we do?”

In December, the DUSIB submitted an affidavit in the Delhi High Court showing that night shelters in these 33 areas in the city can accommodate 3,560 homeless.

But in reality shelters in these areas can accommodate only 1,715 people, the NGO added.

According to NGOs, there are over 1.5 lakh homeless people in the city. The DUSIB said there are about 175 shelters across the city which can accommodate around 14,500 homeless.

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