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Delhi HC reserves order on night shelter

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 19:12

New Delhi: The NGOs have failed to
properly maintain the temporary night shelters in the city
which has led to their low occupancy, according to a panel
appointed by the Delhi High Court following a Delhi government
plea to shut down the facility.

The Delhi High Court today reserved its order on the
city government`s plea seeking permission to close down the 84
temporary night shelters here due to low occupancy, saying it
will take a decision after examining the report.
Accepting the report of a three-member panel set up by
it, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice
Sanjiv Khanna said, "We have to be concerned about the people
on the street and at the same time we are concerned about the
public exchequer as well."

Built for winters, these shelters were having very low
occupancy rates, but the government was forced to spend a lot
of money to maintain them, according to the plea seeking their

The committee, comprising lawyers Jyoti Singh, Shobhna
Takkiar and Jayshree Satpute had visited more than 30
temporary shelters and permanent shelters.

According to sources privy to the report, the
panel found that the temporary shelters were not maintained
properly by the NGOs due to which there is low occupancy.

The committee suggested that the permanent shelters
could be a better option as they were maintained properly by
the civic agencies.

As per the committee, the homeless people were not
aware of the permanent shelters and the Delhi Urban Shelters
Improvement Board (DUSIB) needs to give wide publicity so that
the needy people can start using them.

The High Court had earlier given two weeks to the
panel to submit a report examining the reasons of low
occupancy in temporary shelters which the government wanted to
shut citing the huge expenditure incurred on them.
The government had stated that it was losing more than
Rs one crore per month in maintaining 84 temporary night
shelters, set up last winter. Pointing out that these were put
up as a temporary measure, the government had sought their

"In many cases, since March this year, the shelters
have remained unoccupied for weeks, while in some others, the
occupancy percentage is as low as 2 per cent. The immense
installed capacity of over 90-95 percent is wasted everyday.
Evidently, the temporary night shelters are not required at
all," the government said in its plea.

The court has been examining the issue related to
night shelters suo motu following a media report about the
demolition of a night shelter on Pusa Road in December 2009.

The report had highlighted the purported apathy of the
state government and civic bodies towards the homeless.


First Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 19:12
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