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Delhi: Even the homeless in Lutyens’ are better off

Night shelters in Lutyens’s Delhi get mattresses, power, TVs, clean toilets unlike those in other parts of the city

delhi Updated: Jan 14, 2018 18:16 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times
homeless,Lutyens’,Delhi homelsess
THE HAVES: The night shelter near Gurdwara Bangla Sahib has woollen blankets, clean bedding and shared baths and toilets. A doctor visits the shelter twice a week..(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Even the homeless have it better in Lutyens’ Delhi, where porta cabin night shelters are posher than the pokey rooms and tarps set up in less privileged parts of the city.

Situated inside a tree-lined campus, the cluster of shelters on Bangla Sahib Road offers family rooms and separate dorms for men, women and children. All come furnished with mattresses with cheerful floral designs, plush pillows, warm woollen blankets, 24x7 electricity, flatscreen TVs, and clean, shared baths and toilets.

They also have doctors visiting twice a week.

In sharp contrast is the tarp shelter at Karkardooma in east Delhi, with unpaved brick flooring, tatty blankets and no electricity. “I have four blankets, but each is as thin as a sheet. I use one to sleep on and fold the other three into half to stay warm. It’s still not enough when you’re sleeping on a cold floor,” said Chandar Singh, 44, a construction labourer who made this shelter his home 20 days ago. Singh shares a red portable toilet stationed on the road, which frequently runs out of water.

At Sarai Kale Khan in southeast Delhi, the caretaker has had the bath cabin removed. “People used it as a toilet, it stank up the place so I got it removed. Everyone, including women, now bathe using tanker water behind the shelter,” he said.

THE HAVE-NOT’s: Many night shelters near Sarai Kale Khan are run under tarpaulin tents with only gas-fired lanterns for light, tatty blankets which are as thin as a ‘sheet’, no separate bathrooms and stinking makeshift toilets. (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

At the Bangla Sahib shelter, residents get morning tea and biscuits and hot dinners served from the gurdwara next door. At the tarpaulin shelter at Patparganj in east Delhi, people are happy with tea. “For the past 10 days, we’ve been getting tea and two biscuits in the morning. It’s great,” said Sunil Kumar, 33, who works in the industrial area nearby and moves into the shelter in winter.

The shelter, like 60 of the 259 shelters housed in tents, have no electricity and rely on chargeable lamps at night.

Doctors’ visits are far more regular in the shelters located in Lutyens’ Delhi, and residents expect quality health services – a woman demanded gel for joint pain, while another asked for pills for high blood pressure.

“I don’t have any more left, I will bring them when I’m back in two days,” said Dr Vinod Rastogi, who visits the shelters at Bangla Sahib twice a week.

“He gives us all the medicines we need and if the problem persists, refers us to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital next door,” said Kamla, 60. “I prefer the home visits because standing in hospitals queues takes all day,” she said.

Shelters at Kilokari and Sarai Kale Khan in southeast Delhi have had no visits from doctors this winter. “Last winter, doctors visited once or twice a week, but no one came this year,” said Ram Lal, 60, who has been living here for two years.

“We don’t know who to go to (with our health problems).”

First Published: Jan 14, 2018 18:07 IST