HYDERABAD: Taking shelter in the under construction structures, or in front of shops and bus-stands, thousands of homeless people in the city, spent their night shivering in the biting cold that went to as low as 15.3 degree Celsius on Monday night. The cold was accompanied by persistent drizzle, making it worse for homeless.
Some of the worst affected by this unexpected dip in temperatures were the families migrating from smaller towns to the city looking for work.
“It is not this cold in Bhopal, so we are adjusting with this weather. But when it rains, we have to rush to the buildings for shelter,” said Shabnam, a homeless dweller at Nampally station, who came to Hyderabad in the beginning of December, looking for work. She is unaware about the shelter homes, but even if she did, it is unlikely they would be of use to her.
“I did not know that the government gave temporary homes. But will they allow my husband, my sister and children to stay,” she asks.
None of the existing shelter homes in Hyderabad would be suitable for people like Shabnam as they are either for only men or only women. If they chose to split up, a family would have to stay kilo meters apart.
“Family shelters are extremely important as families have begun migrating together. In their absence, it is the young children who suffer the most,” notes Indira R, Project in-charge for a women-only shelter home at Namalagundu in Secunderabad. They at present have 23 inmates with 6 children residing permanently, everyday 4-5 women walk in and out with their children.
Majority of these workers find their way to Hyderabad during December to scout for labour work in the catering industry which is booming in December owing to the wedding season. Many of these migrant workers spend their nights at the railway station after travelling from different states and districts and set camp there, getting picked in the local labour adda as waiters, cleaners and sanitation staff.
“I have been living here for 19 years. Since I’m unskilled and uneducated, I do odd jobs. Now I am working in the catering business which hardly pays Rs 500 for 12 hours. I tried taking a room for rent, but the income was never certain to pay the rent,” says Raju, another homeless dweller.
Meanwhile, the GHMC officials are yet to conduct mobilisation drives to shift the homeless. “This time is crucial because the winter is coupled with rains leaving all homeless vulnerable to diseases. The least the GHMC can do now is have a mobilisation drive to ensure the existing homes are known to the people and can approach them if needed,” noted a former homeless person who in one such mobilisation drive was rehabilitated.
GHMC Urban Community Development, responsible for the same, were unavailable for comment. Temperatures in most parts of State were 2-3oC below normal on Tuesday.
Nehru Zoo Park’s animals suit up for winter
With the winter season setting in and mercury levels dropping, the Nehru Zoological Park has made special arrangements to protect the animals, reptiles, and birds housed in the zoo park. Room heaters have been arranged in all the night houses of big cats like tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, lions. All the carnivore night houses are covered with gunny bags to avoid winter waves to protect them from pneumonia.
Similarly, all the night houses of birds are covered with 50% top level green cloth to protect from winter waves. Meanwhile, all night houses of Reptiles are provided with dry leaves, bulbs and small pots to protect themselves from cold wind. Animal houses of mouse deer breeding centre are covered with green cloth outer side. For Nocturnal Animals, air conditioners have been stopped.