Non-governmental organisations are challenging the Delhi government figures on the number of people that can be accomodated in night shelters.
In a statement on occupancy in various night shelters in January, the government said the permanent shelters at Fatehpuri and Chandni Chowk can house 900 people throughout the day. But the NGO running these shelters claim these figures are grossly inflated.
“These figures are very misleading. Even if we squeeze people inside the shelter, we will be able to barely manage 450 people. This is a distress arrangement,” said Paramjeet Kaur, head, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, an NGO that is running 13 shelters for the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB).
According to the DUSIB, close to 12,200 homeless people can be accommodated in the 141 shelters being currently run in the city. But the NGOs dispute the number.
“We have written to DUSIB and told them that these figures are unacceptable. They are misleading the courts and the public. According to our review, these shelters can accommodate only 9,467 people,” said Indu Prakash Singh, technical director, Indo Global Social Service Society, an NGO that works with the homeless.
According to the NGOs, DUSIB had mistaken adjustments made in dire situations for capacity.
“What DUSIB needs to understand is that there is a difference between capacity and utilization. If 10 people are squeezed in a space ideal for 2 people it does not mean that the space will be earmarked for 10 people,” said Kaur.
“Even then, 900 is an obnoxious figure. The Chandni Chowk shelter cannot accommodate more than 300 people. We do not refuse anyone admission in the winters as we do not want anyone out on the streets. By international standards, the Fatehpuri shelter should house not more than 250 people,” she said.
“We have asked our engineers and staff to conduct a physical verification to ascertain the truth,” said a senior DUSIB official.