Night shelters no relief for homeless in Cuttack
CUTTACK: As winter chill grips the city every night the homeless make their way to the night shelters. Barely minutes later they are back on the footpaths or are seeking respite on corridors of commercial complexes to sleep.
Bed bugs and rodents, dirty uncleaned floors, space crunch and mafia raj in the night shelters has forced many of them to spend nights in the open in biting cold.
The India Meteorological Department has predicted cold wave for the next few days which leaves the homeless at the mercy of the hostile weather.
As per reports, six Shelters of Urban Homeless (SUHs) have been constructed by Cuttack Municipal Corporation. Located at Mangalabag Kathagola Sahi, Uttar Deulasahi, Sishu Bhawan, Sati Chaura and near Badambadi Bikash Bhawan, these are managed by a non-government voluntary organisation. The management of SUH at Jagatpur, however, remains with the civic body.
Though the civic body claims that each SUH has a capacity to accommodate 50 persons, a reality check shows that the SUH near Bikash Bhawan has only 24 beds.
The SUHs at Mangalabag and Sishu Bhawan are overcrowded, mostly with those who are getting their relatives treated in the government hospitals.
Many of the homeless who spend night on the footpath, bus stand and market yards prefer to keep away from night shelters alleging poor infrastructure, shortage of basic amenities, dismal sanitation and alarming unhygienic condition.
“There are bugs on beds while blankets they provide are full of lice. Drug addicts and criminals abound in those places because of which we fear for our safety,” said a homeless man.
Manager, City Mission Management Unit(CMMU) Ramakant Singh however has refuted the allegations saying, “A section of the homeless sleeps outside for getting clothes and blankets and often food from voluntary organisations as well as also individuals who work for their cause.”
Despite joint mobilisation by civic body and members of a voluntary organisation, they are not willing to stay in night shelters, he added.