COIMBATORE: The place stinks of human excreta, urine, waste and dirty drain water. Most of us would not go anywhere near it, but this a spot which many destitute people see as a haven. Indeed, it would leave people unused to it numb if they see human beings in such a place.
But there are several such places in the city where helpless people can be seen with flies swarming around them and sometimes worms on their bodies.
Sixty-year-old Dandapani, a destitute who died due to lack of treatment in the first week of June, was one such person. He was reportedly denied treatment at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital and lay unattended for days by the road in front of the hospital.
Social organisations have criticised the authorities’ indifference to the problem of destitute people. They also say that officials lack the willingness to and also do not have the knowledge to implement the Supreme Court’s order to provide night shelters to all destitute people.
“A safe night shelter is the right of every human being, but it is not provided. Destitute women are sexually harassed at night. We visited the existing shelter in RS Puram three years ago. Then it did not have even basic amenities. Those there are not even provided proper food,” said S Balamurugan, State general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
Bengaluru has found a solution for the problem by creating a “beggars colony” where destitute people are allowed to stay safely.
When contacted, City Health Officer Dr Santhosh Kumar said a solution would be found for the problem at the earliest. Coimbatore would be made a zone free of beggars, he said.
“Now we have only the night shelter in RS Puram. It can accommodate 100 people. Construction of two shelters - in Poosaripalayam and Ganapathy - is progressing. We will be opening them soon,” he added.
Once these two night shelters are also opened, the Corporation would conduct night patrolling with the help of police and send all the destitute people to these shelters, he said.