NEW DELHI: Additional shelters should be provided for homeless population on a priority basis amid the winter seasons, said civil society organisations.
Amid the pandemic, there is an increased need for shelter homes, they said. Of the 250 additional shelters promised by Delhi government, 20 shelter homes have been set up so far.
“Tents are being set up as per requirements. The exercise is conducted in a phase-wise manner. We have completed 20 installations so far in the first phase.
We plan to complete a target of 100 installations by Sunday. We will add more tents depending on the need,” said DUSIB member Bipin Rai. People living in homelessness suffer disproportionately from the bitter cold and air pollution, pointed out Shivani Chaudhry, executive director, Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN).
“The Delhi government promised to set up 250 additional shelters and provide free meals. However, as of today, only a few of these shelters have been set up and facilities in existing shelters are still not adequate. The early onset of winter mandated an early response by the state.
"The inordinate delay in taking action is resulting in acute distress, especially for homeless children, older persons, and those with chronic illnesses. If timely action is not taken, there could be loss of lives and an outbreak of Covid-19 among the homeless population,” said Chaudhry.
The HLRN had earlier recommended the Delhi government that to protect the health of homeless persons there would be a need to ensure adequate physical distancing norms and hygiene measures at each permanent shelter, portacabin to prevent any outbreak of the pandemic in shelters, and to set up more shelters. Sunil Kumar Aledia from the Centre for Holistic Development said, “The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of the homeless population. There is an immediate need to not only set up more shelter homes but also ensure that they are functional.”
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