Rajesh Malhotra (72) has been living with NGO Earth Saviours Foundation for the past three months. His children abandoned him 20 years ago and with his recent hip surgery, he is confined to his wheelchair.
On Tuesday, which is also the International Day of Older Persons, he faced his second displacement when the NGO had to vacate the premises they had occupied till now because their lease expired.
The NGO is home to mentally challenged, physically disabled, sexual assault survivors, HIV patients, bedridden patients and senior citizens. With no other place to go, more than 135 people have now taken ‘shelter’ at Nelson Mandela Marg, opposite a stretch of famous shopping malls in south Delhi.
Ravi Kalra, founder and president of this NGO, said despite many promises they haven’t been allotted any land by the government. “We don’t even mind paying rent as long as we have a place to stay. The previous owner was kind enough to give us space to operate our kitchen for the time being. We were promised land by Tejendra Khanna, the then Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, but we haven’t received any help,” said Kalra.
They elders are currently sleeping on plastic sheets and are forced to go to nearby bushes to answer nature’s call.
Malhotra said, “I decided to move here because living alone was difficult. Now, sitting here on the wheelchair all day makes me uneasy and I can’t relax.”
SK Chadha has been living at the NGO for five years now and has a spinal cord injury. “I can’t even sleep here because it will aggravate the pain. I told my son to transfer me to another place but he can’t come and see me.”
The foundation also runs a school called Agamya that has more than 90 underprivileged students. They will be taught in this open space by the road.