Already reeling under the sudden cold wave in the Capital, things turned for the worse for five homeless families since Monday night as the skies opened up over the Capital.
Termed encroachers and harassed by the police, these families have been living on the pavements for the past two years after a night shelter that used to provide them refuge was removed by the government.
Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, an NGO working for the homeless, wrote to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) several times asking them to set up a porta cabin, which could accommodate these families. But nothing has been done so far.
In one of the letters written to DUSIB, the NGO had pointed out that nearly 50 people sleep on the pavements and are forced to cook and eat on the streets.
“These families have been on the street for more than a decade. In the past few years, tents were put up for these families and we used to manage them. But for the past two years, they are forced to face the harsh winter in the open. Children have also fallen sick in the cold. The least the government can do is to at least set up a porta cabin for the time being,” said Paramjeet Kaur, of Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan.
The homeless families also allege harassment at the hands of the police.
“Cops beat us up too. When the night shelter was there, we used to get medicine and blankets but now we are forced to live on the pavement. I live with my family and the shelters that are near Karol Bagh are mostly for men so we can’t stay there,” said Susheela, one of the homeless who live on the footpath.
“I have not received any letter but I am trying to find out if it was sent to DUSIB. If need be, a shelter will be provided there,” said urban development minister Arvinder Singh.