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MCD identifies sites for night shelters in capital

The MCD's Slum Department identifies 33 sites where the temporary night shelters can be set up, reports Vibha Sharma.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 01:28 IST

The light showers experienced by the city on Monday night that accentuated the winter nip in the air, have resulted in the few MCD-run night shelters running a full house.

The additional makeshift night shelters that are set up by the civic bodies every year would, however, take time. The shelterless would have to wait till the authorities finish with the formalities.

The MCD's Slum Department has completed its survey and identified 33 sites where the temporary night shelters can be set up. "The list would be communicated to the divisional commissioner for approval. Last year, the temporary night shelters had become functional only by December 15 but this year the winter chill has set in early. We expect the additional night shelters to start functioning within a week," said a senior MCD official.

The existing 18 night shelters, of which of which 10 are run by the MCD and eight by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have a combined capacity of 2,760 persons. The 33 additional night shelters would offer an additional capacity of 3000.

Though the Corporation has no survey on the number of shelterless persons in the city, the officials admit that the facilities are gross inadequate. As per government census of 2000, there were 30,000 shelterless people in Delhi then. Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, an NGO, had carried out a random survey in 2001 and had pegged the figure at 50,000 persons.

"According to estimates, there are around 1 lakh shelterless persons in the city. Every year, a large number of shelterless people succumb to the cold wave. Most of the shelterless suffer from diseases and have a low body resistance to the vagaries of nature -- this is especially true in case of smack addicts," the officer said.

Majority of the night shelters are in a dilapidated condition with the plaster peeling off; the blankets are soiled, smelly and torn; electrical fixtures and taps are missing in the bathrooms.

At Fatehpuri, the entry to the night-shelter is dotted with garbage bins. However, with the mercury dipping everyday, unbearable stench does not offer any discouragement to the homeless. Every evening, there is a long queue outside as the homeless clamour for space.

For Rs 6, the MCD provides two blankets and one mattress. For women, children, handicapped and the elderly, the facility is free.

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First Published: Dec 06, 2006 01:28 IST