Warm bed eludes city’s homeless

56,000: number of homeless in Delhi two years ago, says United Nations Development Programme 150: The number of night shelters in the city this winter, according to delhi government.

As the city continues to shiver in the grip of a cold wave, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) is grappling with the task of providing shelter to the homeless.

At present, Delhi has around 150 night shelters, managed by DUSIB. This include 84 temporary shelters and 66 permanent shelters. But most shelters are getting more people than they can accommodate. DUSIB claims that they have been providing tents as porta cabins take at least a week to construct.

NGOs that are running the shelters say during winter, the shelters are nearly always overflowing.

Bipin Rai from Indo Global Social Services Society (IGSSS), who operates several shelters in Central Delhi, said, "We are stretched to our limits as the number of homeless is far more than the capacity of available shelters. We do not want to turn away anybody, but it becomes impossible to accommodate more than 150-200 people in a shelter."

According to the UNDP report, Homeless Survey 2010, there are 56,000 homeless in Delhi.

He added that the water supply in toilets attached to shelters is fairly limited. "The cleaning vans of the toilets — outsourced to a Pune-based private company, have problems entering the areas under different municipal corporations. Cleaning gets delayed by weeks and with a very erratic water supply, most of the times we have to shut the toilets," he added.

The joint open advisory committee for night shelters, which includes representatives of NGOs and the government sector, had requested that at least another 25 shelters be set up to meet the requirements of the homeless during winter.

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