Sharda, 38, has lived on the streets since she was born. Sanjay, 30, has also known the streets as home. They are among the 160,000 people in the capital who live under flyovers, outside temples, on footpaths and next to railway tracks — and just about anywhere except within four walls and a roof.
The street has been their home for years. Contrary to the popular perception, most of the Delhi’s homeless people are not a floating population. According to various NGOs working with the homeless, many of them were born in the city and most others have been here for at least 10 years.
And in those 10 years, the Delhi government has responded to the need for shelter by pitching only for temporary night shelters.
Even then, the will to provide shelters has been weak. The government acts only when it is pulled up by the courts. “We know we will die here on the street and no one will care,” said Seema, 57.