Delhi HC reserves order on night shelter
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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 closure.

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 closure.

"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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