Delhi government criticised for winter deaths

High court comes down heavily on government for inability to build more shelters for the homeless.

    About 55,000 people are homeless in India's capital, while night shelters can accomodate just 14,000  [Al Jazeera]
    About 55,000 people are homeless in India's capital, while night shelters can accomodate just 14,000 [Al Jazeera]

    The Delhi high court has criticised the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party-led state government for being unable to prevent cold-related deaths in the national capital.

    The court on Monday asked the government to reply to its observations in four weeks, reports said.

    The court's observation came amid media reports that about 180 people have died in the cold in Delhi for want of proper shelter.

    Justice N V Ramana said the court was displeased over the state government’s failure to conduct regular meetings with several agencies with a view to improving shelters for the homeless.

    Reacting to the court’s criticism, the state government said it was  coordinating with the Delhi police and taking other steps to bring succour to the homeless. 

    The court also asked the state government to submit its stated policies on what it would do to provide shelter to the homeless, the reports said, adding that it wanted statistics on the number of the homeless who had died because of the cold weather.

    The government said for immediate relief it had acquired buses and converted them into shelters for the homeless, the reports said, adding that these buses had been placed near public toilets to help the people inside.

    The court was hearing the issue on the shelters for the homeless, especially during winters, which was first taken up in 2010.

    Assurance

    According to reports,  in November 2013,  the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) had said it would ensure that no one would have to spend the night out in the open during winters.

    The board reportedly said it would  make sure that all 174 night shelters would be in working order. Of these, 66 were permanent shelters, 83 were temporary and 25 had been set up during the winter season. In all, they could accommodate 14,000 people, said reports quoting the board.

    There are an estimated 55,000 homeless people in the national capital, according to an official survey.

    The court directions to the AAP government come at a time when the fledgling government is faced with a turbulence because of a prominent member’s revolt within the ruling party and mixed reactions from the people and the media to its chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other ministers’ unconventional style of functioning.  

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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