Beggars would not be taken off Delhi’s roads for the Commonwealth Games.
The ambitious plan of Delhi government to present a ‘clean image’ of the city has hit a roadblock with the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, that makes begging a punishable offence, being challenged in the Supreme Court by some NGOs.
“The new law will not be ready in the next couple of months. We will put them (beggars) in our existing observation homes, removing them before the Commonwealth Games is out of question now,” said Rakesh Mehta, chief secretary, Delhi Government.
The government runs 11 shelter homes in the city, which has a sanctioned capacity of 2,018.
In February this year, the Social Welfare Department of Delhi had approached 10 states and asked them to take their beggars back. In August 2009, of the 1,518 beggars caught, 1,099 were from outside Delhi.
“We have got no response from other states,” said Mehta. Maximum beggars come from Bihar, followed by Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The matter came up for hearing in Delhi High Court on August 9 that postponed the matter for November 26.
“As the matter is in Supreme Court and its constitutionality has been challenged, the case was adjourned for hearing in November,” said V.P. Chaudhry, the amicus curiae in the case.
“Most of them migrated to the city to earn more money. They said that Delhi provided them better opportunity and even if they begged for two days, they earned enough for the entire week,” said a social welfare department official.
The NGO has moved a petition in the Supreme Court to decriminalise begging.