No one to resolve this human issue

Street life

It is a common sight – little unkempt children, clad in rags, their faces smeared  with dirt, vagabonds and old beggars, some handicapped some pretending to be so, tapping on car windows or holding on to your arm, pleading for ‘paisa, khana’, and at busy traffic junctions and markets in Delhi. 

Although they were ‘removed and relocated’, as part of a big ‘clean-up’ before the Capital hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010, they were back again on the streets as soon as the curtains came down on the Games, doing what they did best – begging.

And, the situation has gotten worse since then. 

Apart from children, some even as young as three and four, and the ‘pregnant’ women, even eunuchs have joined the bandwagon, making a killing out of begging around the traffic signals. 

And dare you refuse, you will be heaped with the choicest of curses for your callousness. 

Connaught Place is known to be one of the most important areas in Delhi, considering the fact that it is in the heart of  the corridors of power  and witness to VIP movements, has sprawling bungalows housing top politicians and bureaucrats. 

It is also a popular tourist hub. Ironically, it is also home to a vast army of vagrants, mendicants, the homeless and the drug addicts, who traverse the streets by the day begging and holing up in some dark corner at sundown for a shot at crack. 

The main hub being the Baba Kharak Singh Marg. 
 
Hundreds of beggars and homeless persons have literally made the area  adjacent to the swanky Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan their home – eating, drinking, bathing and even doping. Sad, but true.

Adding to the depressing scenario are their ‘washed’ clothes hanging and drying out all over the place – on the pavements, on the sitting areas, on the dividers and even on the railings! 

A sight that is familiar in other less swankier parts of the City, where a washerman drying his day’s laundry or a local tentwallah airing his tents and carpets out on the railings of a flyover, (this one right on the Akshardham flyover) are 
considered de riguer.

When an official of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) was queried about this, he quickly shifted the responsibility to the Department of Social Welfare. 

“This is not under us. This is the job of the social welfare department”, he said. 

And what about ‘their’ responsibility to keep the area, a major tourist hub, clean at least, the official expressed helplessness, “How can we remove these people?”

In its efforts to make Delhi ‘beggar-free’, the social welfare department is known to have been working towards rehabilitating them. 
 
Dr Mahesh Sharma, Chief Probation Officer of the Department of Social Welfare, said, “We have done a lot and have been doing a lot on this issue, but the fact of the matter is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The problem is much bigger and deep rooted.

There are many stakeholders who are part of this issue. And one of the major reasons leading to this is the increasing migrant population, which needs to be controlled. It is indeed a very complicated matter.”

Avantika Sharma, a Delhiite and a frequent visitor to Connaught Place, shared her views on the issue. 
 
“It is a horrible sight. You cannot walk through that section of the pavement. They will follow you for money and pass comments. They have made the area so dirty and no one seems to be bothered about tackling the issue. Women are seen feeding their children, doping and doing all sorts of things. And this is actually happening in Central Delhi. What is the impression we are giving of our city to the many tourists and visitors who come here.”

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