CHENNAI: The Chennai Corporation will build 42 shelters for the homeless across the metropolis by March, before the end of this financial year, senior officials told City Express.
Activists have been urging the Corporation to adhere to a 2010 mandate of the Supreme Court, which calls for municipal bodies to construct one shelter for every one lakh population. Civic body officials said that there were 28 functional shelters in the city.
“Going by the population, Chennai requires about 70 shelters in total, but identifying space to construct these facilities is a big issue that we are facing,” said a senior official.
One of the plans that the civic body is working out to address the issue is to initiate work on 12 non-functional schools in the city and convert them into night shelters, in association with the Health Department.
It may be noted that the dropping student numbers in Corporation schools due to slum evictions is one of the reasons why these schools are non-functional. Besides, the civic body, in a resolution adopted during the last council meet, had sought permission from Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) to take over defunct buildings from the MBTT truck terminal complex.
The Corporation also receives grants from the Central Government’s National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), which it can utilise to set up new structures.
“Under the scheme, the Centre has allocated `25 lakh for capital costs towards procurement of land and/or construction of the structure, and an additional `6 lakh as recurring costs towards its operation and maintenance,” an official said.
Currently, the Corporation has outsourced the maintenance and operations of the existing shelters to a few NGOs, while 22 more NGOs have expressed interest to come on board to run the shelters. The civic body has decided to incentivise the NGOs by paying `10 lakh per annum towards rent expenses. This amount will not be paid if the structure is owned by the Chennai Corporation. Further, an amount of `3 lakh will be remitted towards other operational expenses per annum.
Going forward, the civic body is also hoping to attract the partnership of corporates for the initiative. “They can partner with us as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives,” the official added.