Huge number of destitutes left out of census process, say NGOs

Enumeration of the homeless in Delhi was officially concluded on March 1. But, a group of NGOs working for the homeless alleged that a huge number of the destitute were left out of the counting process.

Last Updated: Mar 06, 2011, 18:00 PM IST

New Delhi: They may have braved the winter
chill and roamed many filthy by-lanes at night, but lack of
sensitivity on part of enumerators to the poor has made a
mockery of the Census of the homeless in the national capital
with many of them left out of the process, rights activists
have alleged.

Enumeration of the homeless in the city was officially
concluded on March 1. But, a group of NGOs working for the
homeless alleged that the exercise was flawed and a huge
number of the destitute were left out of the counting process.

"The whole enumeration process was a farce," said Indu
Prakash Singh of Indo Global Social Service Society (IGSSS),
an NGO working with the homeless.

"The attitude of the enumerators was actually the biggest
problem in the whole exercise. They were insensitive towards
the homeless and even some picked up fights with them on petty
issues. Many of the enumerators were drunk," he said.

Miloon Kothari, from the Housing and Land Rights Network
(HLRN), said the Census of the homeless in Delhi had turned
out to be "another form of corruption".

While the city has marched ahead of other metropolitan
cities in putting up shelters for the homeless, the Census
exercise showed that the government was not serious about
tackling the issue of homelessness, said Kothari.

"An inaccurate enumeration will result in an inaccurate
figure of the homeless. It would affect the issue of shelter,
as the number of shelters to be set up in a city is decided on
the basis of population," he pointed out.

Shivani Chaudhry, also from HLRN, said that the long term
housing-related policy implications of thousands of people
being left out during the Census would be grave.

"It`s a case of wilful neglect by the authorities," said
Sanjay Kumar of Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA).

In 2000, AAA carried out a head-count of the homeless
citizens on Delhi roads and found that there were over 52,000
such people in the city. But the 2001 Census came up with a
figure of only 24,966 homeless persons in the city.

In 2008, an IGSSS study found 88,410 homeless citizens in
Delhi, but the NGO believes that the actual number could be
almost double, considering the limitations of a head-count.

Census enumerators surveyed the city`s homeless on
February 27 and 28, following a mapping exercise. The exercise
was extended by another day (March 1) to cover left out areas.
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