For 32-year-old Mohan Lal, maintaining a fine balance while walking on the floor of his temporary night shelters at Baba Kharak Singh is a difficult task. The floor, made of ply dust board, is wobbly and sleeping on it is uncomfortable.
Not only this, in many of these tin shelters, the floor - which also doubles up as a bed for shelter home inmates - have developed cracks and become more like a seesaw. What's more, the cracks have also become a passage for the rodents.
A number of NGOs have criticised the design of these shelters and have asked the government to make changes to it. The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) has constructed these shelters and a NGO has been maintaining them. A total of 65 such shelters have been put up by the DUSIB, each costing R3 lakh.
"These shelters were designed and put up by the government in a hurry. Hence, the floor is not a solid surface but is quite wobble, providing no support to those sleeping on them. Also, as the surface is not strong, one can't put up bunk-beds inside them. Therefore, the shelter inmates are forced to sleep on the floor itself," said Indu Prakash Singh, technical advisor of Indo Global Social Service Society, which deals with urban poverty.
"We had complained to the DUSIB and a sub-committee has been formed which will look into the scope of improvement in the design of these shelters. An inspection of these shelters will also be carried out with a group of architects," he added.
However, the Delhi government officials said that these shelters have been constructed akin to the manner in which several suspension bridge structures are constructed.
"They might appear wobbly but suspension structures provide more stability. We have already constituted a sub-committee which will give more ideas for improving the present design," said a senior DUSIB official.
The NGOs further point out that with no layering of thermal protection, these shelters offer no respite from the cold.
According to figures provided by the government Delhi, homeless population hover around 1.5 lakh.