Delhi: Ferry homeless to night shelters, L-G tells cops

  • Prawesh Lama and Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 25, 2014 00:31 IST

The Delhi Police have a new task on their hands — to shift homeless people sleeping on the roads to the nearest shelter homes.

The onset of winter in the city has seen temperatures dropping to less than 5 degrees Celsius. Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has now reportedly asked the Delhi police commissioner to ensure that no homeless person spends the night on the roads in the biting cold. Sources said that Jung wanted to make sure that no one from the city died due to the cold this year.

Following the L-G’s order, a meeting was held at the headquarters where the police commissioner ordered all his DCPs to ensure that local beat officers watched out for the homeless people sleeping out in the cold. The beat officers have been asked to take the homeless to the nearest shelter home and then file a separate report regarding each person transported to such shelter homes.

The proposed move, though, is likely to create a number of problems.

According to the Delhi Government, there are around 25,000 homeless in the city. NGOs working with the homeless, however, put the figure at around 1.5 lakh.

The various night shelters in the city have the capacity to house only around 14,000 homeless people at any time.

Even if the police were to pick up all the homeless from the streets of Delhi, they will still fall short of place to take them to.

Another problem that the police are likely to face is transporting people unwilling to move to night shelters. A large number of homeless people refuse to use night shelters for a variety of reasons. NGOs usually check up on these people every night to make sure they are warm and not in need of help. Taking them to a homeless shelter without their consent, hence, is likely to be problematic.

The police headquarters has also issued a notification to all station house officers (SHO) in this regard. In the order, the SHOs have been asked to visit the shelter homes in their area at least once a day. The local police officers, according to the notification, have to check if there are ‘abundant blankets and make sure other arrangements are at place at such shelter homes. Every SHO has been ordered to file a report everyday on the status of shelter homes.

“We were briefed by our SHO to keep an eye on the people, sleeping in the cold. The SHO told us that although it was an order from the headquarters, it would also be a noble contribution on our part to take the homeless to the shelter homes,” a beat constable in Central Delhi told Hindustan Times.

Jung gives Rs 5cr for shelters

L-G Najeeb Jung on Wednesday announced an additional Rs 5 crore for night shelter homes of the Capital. The decision was taken after a series of review inspections carried out in shelter homes across Delhi.

The week long review conducted by govt officials, deputy commissioners, officers from Delhi Police and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board inspected the availability of blankets and bedding and checked on sanitation condition of various shelters.

Jung also announced that every occupant of shelter homes be given two blankets each in addition to mattresses and quilts. Based on the review report, officials at family night shelters have been asked to track homeless families stay and bring them to the shelters.

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