Twelve unoccupied buildings and three empty or under-construction ones in Bengaluru will soon be turned into shelters for the homeless.
The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike)-- which has identified these structures -- targets to convert at least 10 of the 15 buildings into homeless shelters by January end.
The welfare department has identified some unused space in multi-storey BBMP offices for this purpose. Many homeless can also be accommodated in the NGOs-run shelter homes meant for women and elderly destitutes.
"In the west zone, for instance, we have identified BBMP's office on Good Shed Road which will house 132 people. In all, 5,000 people can be accommodated into the KR Market building on the second floor. In the south zone, Giriamma Maternity Hospital will house 60 homeless women. The back entrance of the multi-level car parking on JC Road has an unused space that can house 40 people," said Deputy Commissioner (Welfare) Jagadeesh.
The BBMP will also tie up with NGOs which are already running centres for the homeless. "In Anepalya, Shantinagar, the Nightingale Medical Trust has beds, individual bathrooms for 70 women at their Sandhya Suraksha centre.
In Hennur, the Holy Cross Mercy home houses 16 women. In Kalasipalyam, the Mariamma temple already provides shelter for 100 to 150 people at a cost of Rs 20 per night. BBMP will cover this cost from now on and provide foldable beds," said Jagadeesh.
BBMP's Special Commissioner (Welfare) D Randeep said that the target is to have 30 functional centres by March 31. "We are focusing on places were work opportunities are close by as several homeless people work in the day and sleep on the streets at night. For example, construction workers, porters and other labourers who work in Majestic Railway station, KR Market, etc.
BBMP has several ward offices, community halls and even mustering centres where pourakarmikas mark their attendance in the mornings. These are left unused through the night," said
In Jakkur ward, Yelahanka, a shelter is under construction. A 2,000 square feet empty site in Vijinapura and a dilapidated government building in JC Road are being redone as well. Other locations include Queens Road, Summanahalli, Hoodi, Tulasi Thota road and PC road.
The Supreme Court in 2010 directed all the state governments to set up homeless shelters in cities/towns with a population of 10 lakh or more.
They directed that a minimum of one shelters should be made available for a population of one lakh people. Sadly, apathy by the state has seen only six shelters made available in the last nine years. It was only in October 2018 that the civic body began conducting surveys with the help of NGOs to take stock of the situation.