It is not a place where you would expect to find schoolgoing children in impeccably clean school dresses. But one step inside the homeless shelter under the Safdarjung flyover belies the waterlogged lanes and the filth outside.
Students sit in a group, wearing clean NDMC school dresses, older ones try and help out the younger ones with their homework. Outside the shelter, their parents mill around. Usually they are at the nearby Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar markets, selling knick-knacks, but today is not a usual day.
On Saturday, the Delhi division of Northern Railways put up a notice in the area asking the homeless to vacate the area by Monday, failing which the shelter and the small tents that have come up around it would be demolished.
The notice is in clear violation of the High Court order of August 9, 2011, which states that no homeless shelter can be demolished in the city.
"We went to meet the railway officials today but no one helped us. We have been given time till Tuesday morning to vacate the area but these homeless people have no place to go to," said Palvinder Singh, member, PRERNA, an NGO that runs the shelter under the flyover.
While the children sleep in the shelter, their families sleep in the open as the place is too small to accommodate all the 50 families. PRERNA got 50 students enrolled in the nearby NDMC school in Lodhi Colony in December last year.
"If they demolish the shelter what will become of these kids? It was with a lot of difficulty that we were able to admit them to school. If they are shifted to another shelter, they will be forced to drop out," adds Singh.
Senior railway officials, however, were not aware of the incident and refused to comment.