Despite the fact that the UT social welfare department has provided 10 night shelters across the city, for the convenience of the poor, many homeless people continue to sleep in the open.
While, some people were not aware about the facility, some of auto rickshaw and cycle rickshaw pullers said that they couldn’t leave their vehicles and sleep inside.
Some were unwilling to go to night shelters as they believed that their day’s earnings would not be safe inside the shelters.
When the HT team visited one of the night shelters on December 30, it was found that it was occupied by a two-wheeler and only around five to six people were sleeping inside.
One of the persons who was having his dinner at 11 pm in one of the corridors of Sector 22 market said, “It’s been five years since I have been working at a shop in this market and after the shop is closed and people have left, I have my dinner and sleep here in front of the shop. Nobody has told us about night shelters.”
An auto rickshaw driver who was preparing his temporary bedding in the corridor of Sector 17 market, opposite Ghazal hotel, said, “I have 6 friends who are also auto rickshaw drivers. At night, we come to this corridor, park our vehicles, have our dinner together and then sleep in the corridors only. I think night shelters are meant for beggars, we cannot sleep with them. We rather feel safe in the corridors.”
A few persons who work in the market in Sector 19 said that if they slept in night shelters, their vehicles would not be safe as they lock up their bicycles at one of the pillars of the market corridors.
Commenting on it, social welfare department director Kehar Singh said, “Our first responsibility is to provide night shelters, and then to motivate people sleeping in the corridors to move into these shelters at least for the safety of their kids during winter nights. But, they don’t listen to us. We have a night shelter near JW Marriot and just 10 feet away from that shelter lives a family that includes two small kids. Our team has been asking been them to shift to the shelter but they argue stating that people crossing on the roads give them quilts and food at times which they would not get in the night shelters.”
Singh added, “Other reasons why these people don’t shift to night shelters is that the shopkeepers probably ask them to stay back at night for security issues. Also many of these people are addicted to drugs and they get together at night for the consumption of drugs. So they prefer the corridors instead of night shelters.”
Night shelters/Rainbaserafree of cost for homeless
The UT social welfare department has provided 10 night shelters across the city at various places.
Homeless persons can avail the facility free of cost. Rainbasera, ISBT, Sector 17; Sector 26; transport area; Sector 22 (opposite SCO 2925-26); Sector 22 (near Aroma hotel); Sector 20C (near Shri Laxmi Narayan Mandir); Sector 19 night shelter (near Shanidev Mandir); Sector-27 C night shelter (adjacent SCO No 1 and traffic light of Sector 27 and 28); Sector-16 night shelter (in front of market) and Sector 43 night shelter are the 10 night shelters available in the city.
The night shelters will be available till February 28, 2016.