To keep the homeless warm, the Delhi government is offering them sheets of bubble wrap as “windcheaters” instead of distributing free blankets.
Bubble wrap is used to pack fragile goods. According to authorities, drug addicts among the homeless sell the blankets to sustain their habit. They can’t do the same with bubble wrap.
The argument has drawn flak from NGOs that run homeless shelters in the Capital. So far, 1,500-odd bubble wrap sheets have been distributed. In the next few days, more than 10,000 sheets will be handed out.
While a sheet of bubble wrap costs about Rs25, a blanket costs anything between Rs100 and Rs150.
“The bubble wrap sheets have air pockets and act as windcheaters. It can be easily carried and is also very cheap compared to blankets,” said a spokesperson of MNGO, the distributing agency appointed by the government.
But NGOs have slammed the move. They say bubble wrap sheets will be of little help as the homeless don’t even have enough clothes to stay warm.
“It’s a bizarre idea. If the government doesn’t have the money, people in Delhi can raise resources,” said Indu Prakash Singh, adviser to an NGO dealing with urban poverty.
When HT visited places like ISBT, Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate and ITO, where these sheets were being distributed, the homeless were not even willing to take them.
“It is absurd to use bubble wrap sheets as protection from the cold. Medically speaking, we have never heard of it as a replacement for blankets,” said a doctor from Max Hospital, who was unwilling to be named.