The government and NGOs are at loggerheads over the population of homeless people in the city.
While a survey commissioned by the Delhi government and conducted by Mission Convergence in collaboration with NGOs, says that there are 55,955 homeless people living in the city, NGOs claim that the homeless population stands at 1.5 lakh.
The survey authorised by the government was conducted in 2010 — a time when NGOs claim that a majority of homeless people had been shifted out of the city.
“The period in which the survey was conducted clashed with the Commonwealth Games (CWG). A number of homeless people had been pushed out of the city then. After the Games concluded, however, all those people came back. They were not counted in the survey,” said Paramjeet Kaur, from Ashray Adhikar Abhiyaan, an NGO which runs a number of homeless shelters in the city.The NGOs say that this data should not be used as the parameter for creating facilities or making policies for the homeless population.
“They did not even consider the lanes and by-lanes while conducting the head-count. Hence, the data produced from the survey findings should not be treated as final,” Kaur added.
The Delhi government, on the other hand, is claiming that the NGOs, which are raising questioning on the data, had participated in the survey.
“They are the ones who had conducted the survey, so why are they questioning the findings now? The data will be used to formulate policies for the homeless and should be seen as a positive step. This survey will also help in deciding how many night shelters should be created,” said a senior Delhi government official.
Refuting the government’s charge, NGOs say that they were informed by the government that the survey would be ongoing to count the homeless population, which has not been the case.
“When we participated in the survey, we had categorically told Mother NGO that the timing was not right, as the CWG would be held in the same year. And so the survey would have to be stopped for two months (October and November 2010). Mother NGO had, however, assured us that the survey would be ongoing,” said Indu Prakash Singh, technical advisor of Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSS), which deals with urban poverty and the homeless.
“To say that there are only 55,000 homeless people in Delhi is making a mockery of them, and highlights injustice even in data collection,” Singh said.
Indo Global Social Service Society had conducted a survey in 2008 and had counted 88,410 people as homeless. They, however, maintained that for every one person counted, another one must have been missed, as they could not enter all the lanes and by-lanes.
“We maintain that there are no less than 1,50,000 homeless in the city. If they will use the current data to make policies for the welfare of the homeless, they are bound to be flawed too,” he added.