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14 succumb to cold in 3 weeks

delhi Updated: Jan 11, 2011 00:47 IST
Mallica Joshi
Mallica Joshi
Hindustan Times
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The bone-chilling winters have found an easy target this season - the poor and the homeless.

With one homeless person dying of hypothermia on Sunday night, the total number of people that have succumbed to cold in the last three weeks has risen to 14.

Karamvir, 45, a migrant labourer from Sonepat, Haryana, was found unconscious outside a temple in Bharat Nagar. He was taken to Babu Jagjivan Ram hospital on Monday morning but was declared brought dead.

According to the police, it was the cold that killed Karamvir. Two other homeless people were also admitted to the hospital, along with Karamvir. Both have been diagnosed with hypothermia and are in critical condition.

With night temperatures going below five degrees regularly for the past one week, the homeless in the city have flocked to night shelters being run by various NGOs across the city.

But the 87 shelters have not given any relief to people like Karamvir, who either don't get a place in the shelters or prefer to sleep in the open because night shelters are not favourably located.

According to estimates, there are more than 1,60,000 homeless in the city. The existing night shelters are equipped to house just 15,000 homeless.

Every year, a number of homeless in the city lose their lives to the cold. However, most deaths go unreported.

"An old man used to live with us on the streets till a few days back but he fell ill and went to the hospital. He never came back. I heard he had died," said Shanti, a homeless who sleeps on the street outside Sai Baba Mandir, Lodhi Road.

Even Shanti has just one blanket and a polythene sheet to brave the icy cold.

She sleeps on the street as there is no shelter for women in the area.

The problem is worse in areas like Chandni Chowk.

"Every other day, one finds an old homeless man lying lifelessly on the pavement.

Not all deaths are reported. There should be a dedicated facility for the rehabilitation of the homeless," said

Sanjay Bhargava, general secretary, Chandni Chowk market association.