Whenever Sunil Kumar and Chinta Devi, residents of Benaras, come to Delhi for the treatment of their 10-year-old son, the only thing they don’t have to worry about is a place to live.
“We stay under the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) flyover. Our son is admitted at AIIMS and this is the most convenient place for us to stay,” said Kumar.
The area under the flyover is littered with utensils, clothes and bedding, even as authorities try to give the city a makeover for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
“At least we can get shelter from the sun and the rain here,” says Chinta Devi, slicing onions for the afternoon meal.
The couple’s son is suffering from tuberculosis of the bone and requires continuous treatment. As many as 15 homeless people are living under the flyover presently.
“I have been living here for the past three years. I have no home and no family and this place is like home to me,” said Bhure Lal, 60.
The beautification of the AIIMS flyover had earlier come under fire from various quarters after steel sprouts were installed in the area without the clearance of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission.
The sprouts were installed at a cost of Rs 4 crore.
The temporary shacks are right behind a traffic police post.
“Many of the people who
live here water and weed the parks around the flyover.
That is why they live here. It is not our duty but the duty of the police to remove them,” said a traffic policeman on condition of anonymity.
The responsibility of maintaining the flyover lies with the Public Works Department (PWD). “We have no knowledge about homeless people living under the flyover. We will look into the matter,” said Rakesh Mishra, engineer-in-chief, PWD.
“These poor people don't have money to feed themselves. How does the government expect them to have houses? Where will all the poor go,” said Chiraunji Lal, who guards
The Supreme Court had, in January, asked the Delhi Government to provide permanent night shelters throughout the year for the homeless.
There are an estimated 1,50,000 homeless persons in the Capital. At present, there are 17 permanent shelters for the homeless in the city, most of which are in the walled city.