If the Delhi government is to be believed, there is no place for pregnant destitutes in the fast growing megalopolis. The shocking fact came to light through an affidavit filed at the Delhi High Court in connection with death of a pregnant woman who died after giving birth to a girl on a busy street in Connaught Place.
Hearing a PIL following a report in the Hindustan Times on August 29, 2010, about a pregnant woman dying on the street after childbirth, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday had pulled up the government for not coming up with shelter homes for destitute pregnant women as directed earlier.
The government’s affidavit in reply to the court’s directives states that there is a large influx of poor migrants from neighbouring states to Delhi, and that the state government is making efforts to cater to the “increasing demand of medical and rehabilitation care for this large continuously growing population”. However, due to limited availability of land in the national Capital, it may be difficult to set up large capacity shelters exclusively for this target group in Delhi, the government further claimed.
It requested the court to issue suitable directives to neighbouring states, as “large tracts of land are available in neighbouring states to set up high-capacity shelter homes, that can take care of this target group”. The government also claimed that there are seven shelter homes/short-stay homes in the city, one run by the department of women and child development and six others by various NGOs.
However, the amicus curae in his counter affidavit rubbished the government claims. “The government is not providing funding to at least three of these shelter homes and none of them are equipped to provide care to pregnant and lactating destitutes.”
“The respondent (Delhi government) has misguided the court in submitting six private, unequipped shelter homes as available homes for destitute pregnant and lactating women,” the affidavit said, adding that the respondent has the audacity to state that there is limited availability of land in Delhi to protect the human rights of women and girls in surviving pregnancy with dignity.
Manoj Parida, secretary of department of women and child development, said: “It is no secret that the Delhi government has no land in Delhi. Land is controlled by Delhi Development Authority.”
The court had directed the government to earmark at least two dedicated shelter homes for such women. “We will definitely set up two shelter homes in coordination with the health department,” he assured, However, he did not commit any time frame.