Keeping in mind the intense cold wave sweeping the Capital, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday paved the way for opening of 43 new temporary night shelters.
This will take the total number of permanent night shelters across Delhi to 200.
The court, besides asking the Delhi government and various land owning agencies to coordinate and ensure opening of temporary night shelters at 23 places suggested by NGO 'Shahri Adhikar Manch Begharon Ke Liye', also took on record the Delhi government's assurance that such shelters will be opened at 20 other places, including four unused government buildings in east Delhi.
The court also asked government counsel Najmi Waziri to put into use more unused government buildings for this purpose on a temporary basis.
"Sometimes, you need to bend the law to help the homeless poor. We expect the government to make use of government buildings as temporary arrangements for the homeless. The accommodation matter of the homeless should not be taken lightly," a bench headed by chief justice D Murugesan told the government.
The court asked the DDA and other authorities to give no-objection-certificates for their properties within 24 hours where temporary shelters could be built.
"The poor dying on the pavements due to cold have become a yearly phenomenon. There are 3 lakh homeless in Delhi and at present only 7,500 (a mere 2.5%) have got accommodation in night shelters," argued the NGO
"The government is conscious of its duty and all measures are being taken to ensure that the homeless do not suffer during the winter," Waziri told the court.
The counsel added 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.