Without furnishing identity proofs, night shelters in Chandigarh refused to admit the homeless even as the facilities themselves reeled under shortage of supplies.(HT PHOTO)
Without furnishing identity proofs, night shelters in Chandigarh refused to admit the homeless even as the facilities themselves reeled under shortage of supplies.(HT PHOTO)

Coronavirus curfew: We are at the mercy of god, cry Chandigarh’s homeless

The 600-bed night shelters in the city don’t accept people without ID proofs like Aadhaar
Srishti Jaswal, Chandigarh | By Srishti Jaswal, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON MAR 29, 2020 12:37 AM IST

Even as the nationwide exodus of migrant labourers amid coronavirus induced lockdown has left many in the tricity homeless, the night shelters of Chandigarh remain empty due to gross mismanagement.

The shelters don’t accept people without ID proofs like Aadhaar. As a result, a 70-year-old labourer Bhaira Singh said he and five others are now living at a bus stand outside Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

NO FOOD OR WATER

Those inhabiting these shelters, however, are equally helpless. With a poor supply of food, potable water, and no soap, the inhabitants are at a total loss.

Neeraj Sharma, 37, an inhabitant at a night shelter outside PGIMER, said, “After going hungry for three days, some food was provided to us today. Since the curfew has been imposed, there is no drinking water; even for washing hands we have to walk to the next roundabout.”

Even after the lockdown was imposed, Basant Singh, 31, continues to live with his family of three in a night shelter in Sector 22. “Before the curfew, the authorities used to give us water and medicines, but now we don’t even have water to wash hands.”

Suraj Bhan, 67, a beggar at the PGI roundabout, said he is living at the mercy of gods now. “I and my wife sleep on the roads and buy some water for 20 to wash hands and take bath.”

UNUTILIZED CAPACITY

Multiple night shelters with beds, quilts, mattresses, pillows, drinking water, lights and first-aid kits were established in Sector 22, Sector 19, PGIMER, GMCH Sector 16, ISBT, Sector 43, Sector 9, Sector 20C and Sector 29 to accommodate more than 600 people.

And yet, both Karan, 35, and Ravi, 30, were not accepted at the PGI night shelter in the absence of any ID proof. Both said they were starving for the last one week. “Some biscuits and tea, that’s all we have had.”

UT adviser Major Parida said, “I will ask the DC to look into it.” Meanwhile, DC Mandip Brar said the MC is looking into it. MC commissioner KK Yadav could not be reached for comments as his phone was switched off.

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