Thousands of homeless people might lose the only roof over their heads if the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has its way.
Delhi has about 150 night shelters at present run by the government. But if the DDA proposal of DDA is approved by the Centre, the number would come down to 32.
According to the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 (clause 4.3), there should be one night shelter for every one lakh people. But the DDA has proposed to change the criteria to one night shelter for a population of five lakh people by amending the Master Plan.
The Master Plan is under review and the proposal was discussed at the authority's meeting recently. The amendment has been recommended by various management groups in the development control norms for night shelters. The amendments were approved by the authority and have been submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development for further processing and incorporation in Master Plan.
NGOs fighting for the welfare of the city's homeless are up in arms against the proposal.
"When we need more night shelters, DDA is reducing their numbers," said Indu Prakash Singh of the Indo-Global Social Service Society.
"If they remove the criteria of one shelter per one lakh of population then it would have adverse impact not only in Delhi but across the country because this criteria is the prevalent norm everywhere," he said.
A senior DDA official said, "It has been seen that most of these shelters remain vacant anyway."
Paramjeet Kaur, Director, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan said that many night shelters remain vacant because these are located far away from where homeless people work and are not accessible.