Parking lot by day, night shelter as sun goes down

CP underground parking lot may house the homeless

The underground Palika parking lot in Connaught Place could be converted into a makeshift night shelter after dark and used for car parking during the day, according to a proposal being considered by the Delhi government to increase facilities for the homeless during winter.

The list of possible makeshift night shelters include ticket booking offices and platforms at New Delhi, Old Delhi and Hazrat Nizamuddin railway stations, sources said.

Delhi government sources said Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) is studying the feasibility of using Palika Parking for protecting the homeless from the chill.

The premises will be vacated by the homeless people in the morning so that cars and two wheelers can be parked during the day, an official said.

“The DUSIB officials will have to tie some loose ends as the exercise will require collective work with the New Delhi Municipal Council and police,” said a social welfare department official.

The civic agency does not appear to be very keen to hand over the parking lot as its cleaning in the morning might add to its sanitation work, he said.

“There is also a fear that some of the homeless may refuse to vacate the parking lot in the morning,” he said.

An NDMC official, who did not wish to be named, said: “The basement of a school at Gole Market is also being seen as a potential night shelter.”

“The school authorities will have to be approached by the Delhi government,” he said.

The proposal to use of government buildings and offices as makeshift night shelters seems to be on the lines of the government’s use of phased out buses as night shelters last winter.

Despite the arrangements made by the city government, the number of unclaimed bodies – a bulk of whom are homeless people suspected to have died due to the chill – recovered this season so far has crossed 450.
According to the DUSIB, there are 219 night shelters being run in permanent structures, porta cabins, temporary tents, and community halls with a capacity of over 15,000 people.

On December 15, the Delhi government launched a helpline for the homeless.
The helpline takes complaints on poor conditions night shelter users and NGOs working for the homeless in the capital.
DH News Service

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