New Delhi, India – The Indian capital of New Delhi entered 2020 reeling under an intense cold wave, with the homeless people on its streets bearing the maximum brunt.
The Delhi government set up nearly 200 night shelters, but they are not enough to host all the city’s homeless, forcing hundreds of them to spend their nights in the open.
“We have around 40 beds which can accommodate a maximum of 60 people, depending on the size of the families who can share a bed,” Sunil Kumar, who manages a night shelter near the Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station, told Al Jazeera.
“We can provide two or three blankets a person, but it doesn’t serve the purpose in such biting cold. There should be some room heaters too,” he said.
While some kept themselves warm by lighting bonfires on the sidewalks, dense fog blanketed the city on Wednesday with the night temperature falling to 2.4 degrees Celsius (36.3 degrees Fahrenheit), disrupting road, air and rail traffic.
On Monday, the Indian capital recorded its coldest December day since 1901, with the maximum temperature plummeting to the lowest ever at 9.4C (48.9F).
“The maximum temperature also dipped to less than 10 degrees in large parts of northern India,” Kuldeep Shrivastava, head of the regional weather forecasting centre in New Delhi told Al Jazeera.
Apart from the capital, Indian states and territories that continued to face a severe cold wave included Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
“Usually temperature dips in the month of January, but this time mercury has broken the record of decades in December itself,” Shrivastava added.