HC seeks joint report from govt, NGO on homeless shelters

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the city government and an NGO to visit those places in the national capital where homeless people are still sleeping on roads and submit a joint report on where shelters are required.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the city government and an NGO to visit those places in the national capital where homeless people are still sleeping on roads and submit a joint report on where shelters are required.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the Director of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and NGO Shahri Adhikar Manch Begharon Ke Liye to jointly visit the sites after the society alleged that they have proposed some sites but the agency is not willing to put up even temporary homes at such places.

"This court directs both the parties - Director of DUSIB or his nominee along with (NGO member) Indu Prakash and his team - to visit all the proposed places and submit a joint report within a period of one week.

"This will not further create any further problem as it will be done with the knowledge of both the parties," the court said, adding that it will hear the matter on January 14.

The court also sought a reply from the railway which earlier opposed use of their stations as night shelters saying it could lead to accidents on the tracks.

It had also stated that the persons use the railway station to defecate on the railway tracks and which the railway workers refuse to clean, leading to hygiene issues.

The court, however, requested the authorities concerned of railways to consider whether any workable solution can be found.

"We also asked the counsel for the railways as to whether the booking offices can be allowed to be used as night shelters," the court had said.

The court's order came after the NGO, while handing over a list of proposed places to build night shelters, claimed that 208 lives were lost this winter due to authorities not following upkeep of such facilities.

Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, informed the court that the society has given a list of places to DUSIB which needed night shelters on an urgent basis.

He claimed DUSIB refused to build additional night shelters, saying most of the places mentioned in the report have no homeless people.

Brushing aside the submissions of both the parties, the court said "Instead of collecting data and blaming each other, the NGOs should come with an idea what can be done.

"The number of NGOs is more than police in the country. What is the use of them (NGO)? Play more constructive role instead of litigating. We have to work within the legal framework."

The court said the "Lieutenant Governor is personally taking interests and inspecting the night shelters. He (LG) is doing things on a day-to-day basis.

"Instead of litigating, the NGOs involved should play a more constructive role," the court added.

The court also asked the authorities to explore building of temporary shelter homes on footpath here.

Earlier, the court had asked the shelter improvement board to identify buildings in the national capital and seek help from various agencies to make available night shelter space for homeless this winter.

The court was hearing a case it took up on its own after media reports highlighted in 2010 the absence of enough and proper night shelters for the homeless in the city.

Earlier, the court's direction came after NGOs raised a concern that the number of temporary night shelters are insufficient, which compels the homeless to continue sleeping in the open in the cold weather.

Taking note of the grievance raised, the court said that during this winter "no one in the national capital should die of cold or be found sleeping on the road side".

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