VIJAYAWADA: The proposal for shutting down of the Hanumanpet night shelter made by member of Ward No. 42 Muppa Venkateswara Rao of TDP, is attracting severe criticism.
According to sources, Venkateswara Rao made the proposal for consideration of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation’s Council that is going to meet Wednesday (Aug 6). In his proposal, he said that the night shelter had become a haven for anti-social elements like ‘Blade Batch’ and other thieves and urged the Council to pass a resolution for closure of the shelter and use the building for other purposes.
However, opposing the proposal, CITU members, led by CPM city committee secretary Ch Babu Rao, staged a dharna in front of the VMC office here Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Babu Rao said that the VMC had no right to do so as night shelters were part of the Union government’s plan. “We will protest against the government if the VMC winds up the shelter,” he added.
Meanwhile, speaking to Express, VMC commissioner C Hari Kiran made it clear that it was just a proposal and added that the civic body was actually planning to open an exclusive night shelter for women in the building adjacent to the existing one.
“The proposed night shelter will house at least 40 women. We are not making plans for the closure of the night shelter as the Supreme Court has issued some guidelines to provide shelter to the homeless,” he added. It may be worth mentioning here that the city, with a population of 11 lakh, has only one night home run by the VMC at Hanumanpet, which accommodates 90 people.
There are three other night homes meant for homeless children, being managed by some NGOs. Of these, two are run by Navajeevan Bala Bhavan at Hanumanpet and Eluru Locks Centre. The other one is located at Gandhinagar. The lone night home run by the VMC is charging `2 per person for providing shelter.
Though the night shelter can hold a maximum of 150 people, the police permit only 90 people to avoid ‘disturbances’ and entry is barred after 10.30 pm. Moreover, many homeless people do not know of the facility in the city.