The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) may have managed to abide by the Supreme Court’s order to set up more shelters for Delhi’s homeless by creating 37 new lodgings at short notice, but "teething troubles" have cropped up in terms of lack of basic amenities like blankets and electricity supply, an official admitted Saturday.
The apex court Wednesday ordered the Delhi government to provide shelter to the homeless by evening. The shelters should also have basic amenities like blankets, electricity, food and toilets, the court added.
In a short span, 37 additional night shelters were set up with a total capacity of 5,000.
However, protecting Delhi’s homeless, estimated at nearly 150,000, is becoming an uphill task for the civic agency’s administration.
These new venues are mostly community halls which have inbuilt toilets. But, since they were not in use for many months, problems of snapped electricity, water supply and lack of blankets have begun to emerge.
Certain shelters were also seen to have low occupancy of about 60 percent.
A senior MCD official termed these as "teething troubles".
"These are teething troubles that we are facing. Actually, since these were emergency measures, there was little time to prepare these venues. We are pooling in all resources to address the matter," MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur told IANS.
The additional night shelters are expected to provide relief to 4,510 men and 410 women and children. Only four of the 37 additional shelters will be able to house women and children.
A woman staying at one such shelter in north Delhi said: "It is so cold. Yet, all we get is two blankets – one to spread where we lie down and the other to cover ourselves with. Is that enough? We need to feel warm. A young girl living with us has succumbed to the cold wave. We may be next…the government must help us."
While 17 new shelters are in the walled city with a capacity to house 2,220 people, six in central Delhi are for 880 people, five in west Delhi for 650 people, four in north Delhi for 530 people, three in south Delhi for 360 people and two in east Delhi for 280 people.
Asked how the MCD proposes to address the dearth of blankets, Mathur said: "We will use our own finances and resources. However, any charity is welcome. To donate blankets, people can contact the shelter’s nodal officer or the slum department."