Few shelter homes for many homeless

Five shelters where accident took place
Last Updated 18 August 2014, 20:16 IST

There are five shelter homes for homeless people in close proximity to the site in north Delhi’s Kashmere Gate where a youth was killed and a dozen injured on Sunday night in a car accident.

But people overseeing the shelter homes estimate there are roughly 1,500 to 3,500 homeless people within a 300-metre radius of the accident site.

Ideally, the five shelter homes are capable of accommodating 200 people. However, 250 to 300 people are allowed admission to the dormitory-like structures.

Others have the long stretches of pavements to sleep on.

Mohan, a ragpicker who had a close shave on Sunday, had found accommodation in one of the shelter homes.

But he chose to vacate it for the “cool breeze” on the roadside at summer nights.

“The shelter homes are hot and there are mosquitoes inside,” he said.

On a visit to the shelter homes on Monday, Deccan Herald found them well-managed.

All were equipped with ceiling fans and some with air-coolers and a television.

While temporary bathrooms and toilets had been constructed, many chose to take a bath with water leaking from wide Delhi Jal Board pipes passing through the area.

While a coordinator at a shelter home said they choose to take a bath that way “for fun”, another homeless Surender Kumar said the bathrooms are few in number, and crowded.

Reserved for patients

“Two of the five shelters are each reserved specifically for tuberculosis patients and those discharged from hospitals and need care. While the mandate is to accommodate 30 patients in the two homes, we currently have 54 of them residing,” said Javed Khan, a coordinator with NGO Centre for Equity Studies, headed by social worker Harsh Mander, who looks after three shelter homes in the area.

Rest are left with three shelter homes to reside in.

Hundreds of men line up at nights to sleep on both sides of the two converging roads on the accident site.

The rows extend up to 300 metres on the pavements.

Some others who cannot manage a spot have created their own space in the low-lying areas nearby.

They mostly choose spots under trees to protect them from the sun during the day.

While they have been spared so far from heavy rains this year, a spell of showers forces them to seek shelter under a nearby flyover.

“Not all of us can fit under the flyover, so we use plastic sheets to save ourselves,” said another homeless Ram Lakhan Lal.

An organisation running three of the five shelter homes on behalf of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board provides free food to the homeless.

However, people were seen clinging to a moving van after it was done with distributing lunch to a few.

(Published 18 August 2014, 20:16 IST)

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