Blankets lie in warehouse as homeless suffer

Some shelter homes in the city have not received washed blankets and mattresses even with the onset of winter, forcing destitutes to bear the chill.

The organisations working for the homeless have slammed the government body looking after shelter homes, namely the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), for its lack of preparedness.

But the DUSIB said the NGOs are not “willing to come forward” to pick up the washed blankets lying at its warehouse in Shazadabad near Inderlok.

NGOs said shelter homes should be provided with blankets by October-end.

“We were not given any blankets from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board,” said Shakeel, director of Campaign for Homeless Rights, which runs three shelter homes in Okhla and Yamuna Pusta, accommodating over 250 destitutes.

DUSIB agreed there has been a delay this time. “Due to government holidays and festivals, the process of distribution of blankets and mattresses has been delayed,” said DUSIB Director Kamal Malhotra (Night Shelters).

But the board said it is the responsibility of the NGOs to collect blankets and mattresses from its warehouse.

“We give NGOs a date to come and collect blankets. We have even been sending reminders to them,” added Malhotra.

Shakeel said his NGO hadn’t got any reminder from the DUSIB. He added that the NGO had not been paid by DUSIB since Janauary and it didn’t have the money to arrange transport for the blankets.

The DUSIB have got some 14,000 blankets and 4,000 mattresses washed for the winter, Malhotra said.

“Many blankets are lying in the warehouse. Some NGOs have picked up the mattresses, but others are yet to collect them,” he added. “They aren’t willing to collect them.”

The DUSIB is planning to set up some 40 temporary shelter homes for winter. “We have even started setting up 25 shelters for the homeless this winter season,” said Malhotra.

NGOs complain that every year DUSIB fails to meet the deadline, and allege that this leads to deaths among the destitutes.

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