The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Friday decided to make seven of its properties operational as night shelters for the destitute in the city. All the seven shelters are in the island city in areas of Kamathipura, Khetwadi, Dadar and Byculla and have the capacity to give shelter to about 450 people.
Twelve more night shelters are proposed to be opened in the suburbs of Bandra, Andheri, Malad, Kandivli, Dahisar and Chembur.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court had given an order directing all the major urban centres in the country — with a population of more than five lakh — to open night shelters.
The state government too had issued a directive to the BMC following the Supreme Court order to build such shelters.
Last year, a notice of motion was moved in the civic general body on the issue of providing night shelters for the homeless. However, it was rejected by the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance on the ground that it would turn the city into a ‘dharmashala’.
HC had recently directed the BMC to spread awareness about its night shelters, as several went unoccupied because the homeless did not know about them.
“Even if it has come late, it is a move in the positive direction. Countless people come to the city in search of jobs and are forced to live on the streets. Without proper shelter, they are often exploited, assaulted or even run over in car accidents. Such shelters would at least put a roof over their heads,” said Vinod Shekhar, former Congress corporator who had moved the motion in the civic general body.
The civic body has appealed to non government organisations and other social welfare organisations to raise awareness among the homeless about these shelters.