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Delhi Government ousts homeless for Games: UN expert

Last Updated: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 00:18

United Nations: An independent UN expert
has expressed concern about the deaths of homeless people in
New Delhi due to cold as the government has `demolished`
number of shelters due to the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

"The lives of hundreds of homeless people in India
are at risk as temperatures near zero degrees," warned Raquel
Rolnik, the Special Rapporteur on housing.
"Ten homeless persons have already died from cold
in the last month in New Delhi.

In northern India, around a hundred homeless persons
have reportedly died in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
due to the freezing cold that affected the region over the
last few weeks," she added.

The Special Rapporteur underlined that while the
homeless population in the capital has increased, the number
of shelters "has recently been reduced from 46 to 24, in
disregard of the Delhi Master Plan 2001 and the Delhi
Municipal Corporation Act 1957."

In the last few months, Rolnik, noted that demolitions
and evictions of homeless from places they used as shelters
have been conducted by public authorities despite the
cold weather.
The Commonwealth Games, according to her, seemed
"to be one of the factors behind the closing down of a number
of shelters."

The Special Rapporteur welcomed the decision by
the Delhi High Court that required the government to provide
shelter to 250 people after their nigh shelter was demolished
by the Municipal Corporation.

Noting that the 250 people remained homeless, she
urged the authorities "to comply with the latter and in this
framework to halt the demolition of homeless shelters, to
provide immediate assistance and adequate shelter to the
affected persons and not to evict homeless persons in the
winter, on humanitarian grounds."

The Special Rapporteur reported that a further
400 people were evicted in January 2010 from their shelter at
Pul Mitahi, Sadar Bazaar, home to Commonwealth Games
construction workers and Dalit families.

Rolnik is an architect and urban planner who was
appointed as the UN expert on housing in 2008.


First Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 - 00:18
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