Still no shelter for the homeless

Still no shelter for the homeless

Civic issue

Still no shelter for the homeless

Delhi is one of the most heavily populated metros and attracts thousands of migrants from across the country, especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.

This large population of migrants, who contribute to the economy of the city in the form of cheap labour in the informal sector, unfortunately remain deprived of basic civic amenities and social security.

For these urban homeless, it is a daily battle to overcome the many challenges like easy access to elementary public services like health, education, food, water and sanitation.

Most of them are labourers and rickshaw pullers who come to the national capital in search of a better livelihood but have no place to call home in a city as big as Delhi.

In view of the numerous deaths of the homeless and unsheltered, that occurred in the city and elsewhere, during the cold season, the Supreme Court had directed the state governments of UP, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh to build sufficient number of shelter homes for the homeless people ahead of the winter season.

The deadline for this was November 13, i.e., today! So did the Delhi government follow the SC directive, build night shelters and prepare for the cold season?

Metrolife finds out...

Given the bone-chilling winter in Delhi, it just not about night shelters but also other basic amenities, like quilts, blankets hot water etc.

Currently, Delhi has just 82 permanent night shelters and 102 porta cabins and this number remains the same on ground, but not on paper!

As per Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) 14, 584 homeless persons can sleep in these night shelters, but according to the actual capacity per square feet, only 4,889 homeless persons can be accommodated.

Sunil Kumar Aledia, member of Centre for Holistic Development (CHD), said, “On paper the concerned authority i.e., Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) have done their part. But, the reality is that they have erected temporary makeshift tents on barren lands. They do not have any facility either.”

DUSIB has erected 13 tents in Rani Garden, Jheel Khureji, Kishan Kunj, Rithala, Rohini, Janakpuri, Keshavpur, Lajwanti Garden, Subhash Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Uttam Nagar, Eidgah Extension, Yamuna Pushta and Yamuna Bazaar near Hanuman Mandir, which will be alloted to the homeless people from November 15. 

“Like always, the authorities will only wake up only when there is an emergency. Even the NGOs do not get enough support from the government and the authorities. The DUSIB has also proposed to provide hot water for drinking and bathing during the winter. But how and when will they do it is the question, especially when there is already a dearth of water in the city,” charged Aledia.

One of the homeless Manoj Singh* living in one of the shelter homes, said, “Electricity is an issue during the summer. We also don’t get enough water and security, which is  worrisome as there is nobody to keep a check on those who come to live here. During winter the scene gets worse. Because of the chilling cold everyone wants to sleep inside the shelter homes. The situation gets really difficult for all of us.”

*Names have been changed on request.