Beggars on Delhi's streets have put a price tag on giving up living by seeking alms — a minimum daily stipend of Rs 80. While a desperate Delhi government has offered Rs 30, they are not willing to play ball.
Inmates of the three beggar homes at Seemapuri, Jail Road and Lampur have told officials that the Delhi government's three-fold increase in their stipend last month — from Rs 10 to Rs 30 — is too little.
Officials said the demand is for a stipend of at least Rs 80.
“Begging used to fetch us more money. We would make Rs 100-150, or even more. We learn new skills (in the government homes) but get a paltry stipend. This isn't sufficient and we have asked the authorities to increase it,” said a beggar at one such home.
Some beggars have even left the homes and gone back to earning on the streets.
“They had been complaining for some time that the stipend is too little. It was then that we increased it to Rs 30. A plan to raise it further is under consideration,” said a senior Delhi government official.
While the beggars are demanding allowance as per “market rate”, the Delhi government isn't saying no.
“We want to reform and rehabilitate beggars. We increased their stipend from Rs 10 to Rs 30 a day as this will be seen as an incentive,” said Delhi’s social welfare minister Kiran Walia.
“If need be, we will increase the stipend further,” she said.
Approximately 600 beggars live in the three Delhi government shelters, where they are provided food and taught skills such as weaving, tailoring, book binding and electrical and bicycle repairing.