Manoj, 35, could not survive this winter despite living in a night shelter. The reason: Equally harsh cold conditions exist inside these shelters. Manoj, a resident of Qudsia night shelter, succumbed to fever and cold on Saturday.
Alarmed over the condition inside these government-run shelters, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) has decided to install heaters in some of the permanent structures.
There are 66 permanent night shelters in the city. In all, 150 permanent and temporary shelters across the city accommodate 13,400 people.
A list of shelters where heaters will be provided will be issued soon.
"During inspection, we found a number of shelters either on riverbanks or at shaded locations. So, the area and the shelters remain extremely cold. Though we provide blankets to the residents, we have also decided to provide them heaters," said Arvinder Singh, urban development minister.
Singh has called a review meeting to discuss the measures that need to be taken to improve the functioning of night shelters.
"It has been quite cold for the past few days. Heaters will be of great help. Most of the people in these shelters are suffering from one disease or the other," said a representative from Mother NGO at St Stephen's Hospital, a nodal agency appointed by Delhi government to oversee the functioning of homeless shelters
From December last year, eight homeless people have died, including Manoj. "A team member took him to the hospital from the shelter on January 4. He was suffering from cold and fever and ultimately died on Saturday," said a representative from Mother NGO.
The homeless helpline run by the NGO received 25 calls on Monday, a number of which required rescuing homeless persons.