Delhi HC seeks detailed report on night shelters

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the city government to submit a detailed report on various infrastructural shortcomings in city night shelters and the problems faced by the homeless availing the facility.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri asked the government to prepare the report in consultation with various NGOs, given the task of running these shelters with governmental aid.

The bench, which also included Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, also directed NGOs like Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan and others to apprise the government of various problems like water scarcity and lack of sanitation plaguing the night shelters and asked them to suggest measures to government to make them homely by ridding them of their shortcomings.

The court's direction came on submission by some NGOs that lack of proper facilities, including the water supply and sanitation at the night shelters, turns homeless away.

As some of the NGOs told the court that they had surrendered some of the night shelters due to poor infrastructure and non-payment of fund, the court reminded them it was their duty to bring the homeless to the night shelters.

In its submission to the court, the city government said it has 11 functional night shelters in the city while 32 newly-built shelters are on the verge of being made operational and 18 others would be made operational within a week or so.

It said all night shelters are semi-permanent structure with vinyl flooring and having facilities of water and sanitation.

The government also told the court that it is paying around Rs 32,000 monthly per night shelter for their upkeep besides Rs three lakh for constructing them.

The government earlier had informed the high court that it was not feasible to restore some night shelters located near railway tracks and under flyovers due to security concerns.

The report was filed in response to the high court suo motu taking cognisance of news reports last year about demolition of a night shelter on Pusa Road amid biting cold and seeking government's response to the event.

The government had said that mobilisation of people was "very low" and they are not going to the night shelter.

The court had declined to accept the government's plea and said "the poor and the needy" were not turning up at the night shelters due to lack of proper infrastructure.

The NGO had alleged the city government and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board demolished night shelters without any prior information. It also alleged that the government has stopped funding them.

On December 14, the bench had directed inspection of all 64 night shelters in the capital and had sought report on their condition and occupancy.