Closed subway adds to homeless woes

70 DTC buses to be converted into shelters

A subway that helps pedestrian reach All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) gets closed around 11 pm. If it is kept open, many homeless can be saved from braving chill on the streets in the area, demanded NGOs working for the destitutes.

When Deccan Herald visited the site at about 11 pm, about 75 persons were found sleeping on the pavements. “I don’t have anywhere to go and the subway gets closed so I am sleeping here,” said Rajinder.

In an attempt to give respite to the homeless, the Delhi Transport Corporation has offered 70 non-functional buses to the authority that looks after destitutes to convert them into shelter homes for those spending nights out in the open in the national capital.

An official with the urban development department said they are selecting spots to place them. “The buses will be placed in those areas where homeless are found sleeping like hospitals, bus stands and railway stations,” he said.

A girl born on December 16 was brought to AIIMS from Meerut for treatment on January 3. Her parents have since been braving chill out in the open. The father says if the subway next to the AIIMS remains open they can be saved from such hardships. 

“The subway gets closed around midnight and we are moved out. The subway is cleaned by water which adds to our woes,” said Ram Chander, another person who sleeps near AIIMS.Sara Khatoon, 40, had come to AIIMS for her husband's treatment. She was seen without any blanket. “I have lost all my stuff,” she said.

Eight unused Blueline buses have already been converted into night shelters for the homeless. These buses are stationed at AIIMS, Sarai Kale Khan and Nehru Place.

Kamal Malhotra director of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board said the seats have been removed and the windows of these buses have been repaired. 

The maintenance of these buses will be with the NGOs, he added. Not satisfied with the Delhi government’s efforts in providing shelter to the homeless, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed it to inform it about its policy for the roofless and the number of deaths caused due to cold wave. 

The Bench also directed the government to submit to it long term and short term policies for night shelters. 

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