HYDERABAD: In the last six months, several complaints have been landing at the doorsteps of the TSRTC seeking the relocation of homeless persons occupying bus stops as shelters. The officials, however, seem to have proven inefficient in asking them to relocate.
Though the practice can be understood as an attempt by the homeless persons to protect themselves, whether it be the State’s ruthless summers or cold winters, several commuters have been red-flagging such ‘illegal’ occupancy of public spaces.
Take for instance the bus stop outside Gandhi Hospital in the city. The place welcomes one with washed clothes put out to dry and children playing or sleeping at the bus shelter. For seven to eight families with no place to call home, the bus stop has been a shelter house for over three years.
“Five years ago, my husband and his elder brother had a fight regarding our house in Mahbubnagar. We were forced to move out of our house after that. Ever since my husband dropped us off at this bus stop, I have been living here with my two daughters and these other people who were once strangers to us. My child is studying at the government school nearby these days,” says Krishnaveni, who meets her family’s needs by taking up menial jobs in the area. “Almost all of us here are victims of family feuds. A few elders have even resorted to begging to make ends meet,” says Sumathi, who is currently waiting on a treatment for her eye injury because she has no money in hands. The others include a pregnant woman from Amberpet, two men working as a hotel cleaner and a band performer, along with children aged between 2 and 10.
The commuters at the bus shelters do not quite use the bus shelter as it is occupied by these people most of the time. The argument however is that though they use the adjacent shelter, the buses won’t stop there when they see a huge crowd.
“I have been seeing these people here for the past year. I understand their situation, but this is causing inconvenience to the people. We can’t even use the other shelter as they have kept their food, clothes, etc. in there.” says M Padmini, who frequently waits for a bus at the Gandhi bus stop. “It feels like we are standing inside someone’s house and that is uncomfortable. Why is GHMC or TSRTC not doing anything?” questions Aditya Kumar, another frequent commuter.