Countering allegations from NGOs, the Delhi government has told the high court that it was strictly going as per the Master Plan 2021 in providing night shelters to the homeless.
The government's standing counsel Najmi Waziri told a bench headed by chief justice D Murugesan that it had set up one night shelter for every one lakh population across the capital and there were 144 temporary shelters in Delhi.
However, NGOs alleged that there were no adequate night shelters for the poor due to which they are forced to sleep on the pavements.
“Poor dying on the pavements due to cold have become an yearly phenomenon. There are three lakh homeless in Delhi and at present only 7,500 (a mere 2.3 percent) have got accommodation in night shelters,” said lawyer Jayant Bhushan who appeared for the NGOs.
Bhushan said that many night shelters were located at farflung Rohini and Narela areas where there were relatively less number of homeless.
With winter round the corner, the High Court has sought details from the state government about the facilities for the homeless. “Are there adequate night shelters in place with all facilities?” the court asked.
Waziri said the situation was much better for the poor and homeless this year. “Now, porta cabins are provided instead of tents. So, measures will be taken to ensure that the homeless do not suffer during the winter,” Waziri said.
A three-member committee constituted by the court earlier last year blamed the NGOs for low occupancy of night shelters, saying they were not doing their job sincerely.