Gauri (20), a homeless, preferred to stay outside and face the cold than move into a night shelter.
“I find the condition of these shelters extremely distressing,” she said. “They are crammed and people pick up fights.”
Gauri said they were often so dirty that city pavements seemed cleaner. “People vomit and dogs walk around.”
Gauri and most other homeless people Hindustan Times spoke to late on Wednesday night were unaware of the 5 pm deadline the Supreme Court had set for Delhi government to improve living conditions in these shelters.
They did not see any visible changes in their surroundings.
The night shelter at Pusa Road, that can house around 120 people, bore the same shabby look when HT visited the premises late on Wednesday evening.
“The sweeper comes in the morning but the shelter remains dirty,” said 65-year-old Hanumanta who came to the shelter 15 days ago. “There should be better arrangement.”
Hanumanta said there was no toilet or facility for water for the people living at the shelter.
“We have to relieve ourselves in the open,” said Neelam (40), who stays outside the tent in Jhandewalan, has to stay out in the cold as the night shelter there houses only men.
“My daughter is suffering from Pneumonia but we have to stay outside as we are not allowed to sleep in the tent,” she said. “Staying out in the open is not a very safe option for me and my three girls.”
Those living in these shelters feel lucky if they have electricity or enough blankets.
“There was no electricity till five days ago. Our children cried in the darkness,” said Ratna Bai who stays at the Pusa Road shelter. “Even the blankets were short in number at times.”
There are an estimated 1,60,000 homeless people in Delhi. Presently, the city has 41 night shelters out of which 27 are run by the MCD and 14 temporary shelters are run by the Delhi government.