As the temperatures plunged to bone-chilling levels in the capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said the homeless needed to protected from the extreme cold and directed the Delhi government to open more temporary night shelters apart from the existing 154.
"Poor (people) dying on the pavements due to cold has become a yearly phenomenon. There are three lakh homeless in Delhi and at present only 7,500 (a mere 2.5 percent) have got accommodation in night shelters," argued the counsel for the NGO Shahri Adhikar Manch Begharon Ke Liye, which has taken up the issue.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan asked the government's standing counsel Najmi Waziri to ascertain if such shelters could come up at 23 locations in the capital suggested by the NGO. Waziri assured the court that he would get in touch with the land-owning agency and reply to the court on January 9, the next date of hearing.
"The government is conscious of its duty and all measures are being taken to ensure that the homeless do not suffer during winter," Waziri told the court, adding that it was determined to set up one night shelter for every one lakh population across the capital as mandated by the Master Plan 2021.
On the last date of hearing, the court had asked the Delhi government to shift the temporary night shelters for the homeless closer to places where they work. The NGO had argued that the shelters are mostly in Rohini and Narela and far from the workplaces of the homeless.