For the hundreds of homeless in Chandni Chowk, the temporary housing provided to them is not much of an improvement — they shifted from the roadside to a shelter next to a garbage dump.
Two night shelters in the area are situated at the most unhygienic place — right next to a garbage station. The temporary shelter, which can house more than 80 people, shares a wall with the dumping ground.
Another shelter — a permanent one that runs throughout the year — is located above the garbage station. With a capacity to house 250 people, the shelter is run by Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works for the rights of the homeless in the city.
“We have asked the authorities to find some other place, but nothing has been worked out so far. As it is, finding an alternative place in old Delhi is difficult. Shifting the dhalao (garbage station) is not feasible either,” said Paramjeet Kaur from Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan. “In summers, the stink, mosquitoes and filth becomes too much to bear.”
Both shelters, however, are clean and well-equipped, despite its location. Run by NGOs, there are blankets and mattresses in the two lodgings.
“The dhalao is cleaned regularly. We spray disinfectants around the area and try to keep it clean,” said an MCD official.
But puddles of dirty water and garbage, accumulated throughout the day, are still present around the shelters.
“The poor have been given the worst possible places to live in the city. They are not on the government’s priority list,” said Indu Prakash Singh, technical advisor with Indo-Global Social Service Society, another NGO.