It was her last hope to brave the bone-chilling weather but with its destruction, Madhuri, 19, has been left out in the cold. Literally.
The mother of a two-month-old sat aghast as the under-construction temporary shelter near the Okhla railway station that she had planned to make home during the harsh Delhi winters was demolished before of her eyes by the railway authorities on Friday.
“We had started building the shelter yesterday after getting an approval from the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. The railway authorities had expressed some objection, so we stopped construction and filed an application. There was no need to bring bulldozers and damage the structure irreparably as we had no intention of building the shelter without permission,” said Palvinder Singh, who heads an NGO, Prerna, that is responsible for the maintenance of 10 shelters in the city.
The shelter improvement board had this year come up with fire-resistant temporary shelter structures, which were primarily iron enforced.
“They have completely destroyed the structure and it cannot be reused. We were supposed to meet the officials to discuss issues regarding the shelter today, but they did not wait and acted in haste,” Singh added.
The demolition is an indication of the lack of communication between the government and the railway authorities. DUSIB had, last week, come forth with a list of places where shelters were to be set up. It is clear that all relevant authorities were not informed of the decision on time. Railway authorities say a communication was received only on Friday.
“We got the letter from the government asking for permission to set up the shelter only on Friday morning. For safety reasons, we have to keep 50 meters around railway lines free of encroachment in winter as there is a lot of fog,” said Ashwani Lohani, DRM, Delhi.