The Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council has given a ray of hope to about three million homeless people across urban India.
Prodded by the council, the housing and urban poverty alleviation (HUPA) ministry is planning to roll out a national programme for providing permanent shelters to the homeless in towns and cities.
In all, the government proposes to build 16,000 well-equipped shelters for the homeless in the next five years. They would run round the clock, and have basic amenities such as clean bedding, blankets, water, toilets and kitchens. “We have sought a R4,000-crore budget for the programme,” said Misra. The ministry has already been allocated R50 crore in the 2012-13 budget for preparatory work.
The initiative comes close on the heels of NAC’s recommendation for “a need for policy intervention to address the challenges faced by homeless people, with regard to shelter, social housing and social protection”.
A concept paper prepared by the ministry stated that while the Centre would share 75% of the cost for setting up a shelter home, the rest would be borne by the state governments and municipalities concerned. The day-to-day management of the homes would be the responsibility of the state or municipalities. “The latter can rope in community-based organisations/NGOs to run the homes. Nominal fees can be charged for food,” said a ministry official.
Earlier, the NAC had urged the Centre to amend guidelines of the Rajiv Awas Yojana — its flagship slum rehabilitation programme — to bring the “ultra poor” under its ambit. But when the ministry refused, the NAC recommended that a separate scheme be framed to cover the urban homeless.