Ration cards missing for Delhi homeless despite apex court order

Nearly three years after a Supreme Court order to distribute ration cards to homeless people in the capital, the Delhi government is yet to do so, says a report by commissioners of the apex court.

\"In spite of repeated reminders from the Supreme Court commissioners, the Delhi  government is yet to distribute ration cards to homeless people in Delhi nearly three years after these directions,\" apex court\’s commissioner N.C. Saxena and special commissioner Harsh Mander told the Supreme Court in their joint report dated Jan 13.   

In March 2007, the commissioners had directed the government to distribute AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) cards to the entire homeless population of Delhi within six months.    

\"The Delhi government decided that the homeless families would be identified among the poorest of the poor or Antyodaya. In compliance with these decisions and instructions, the Food and Civil Supplies Commissioner of the Delhi government undertook with the help of civil society organisations, a massive survey over seven months for homeless families in the city,\" the report said.   

\"Up to now, it (has) completed the survey of around 15,000 urban homeless families. While some of these people were symbolically given ration cards by the chief minister at a public function on Aug 15, 2009, none of them have yet been able to lift any rations using these cards,\" it said.    

\"Further, most of these identified by the survey are yet to even receive ration cards.\"   

In the same report, the duo indicted the city government for neglecting shelter facilities to the homeless. On the basis of this report, the apex court Wednesday ordered the city government to provide night shelters to the homeless by the evening.    

The report criticised the government for failing to provide ration cards to the homeless and said \"by refusing to provide ration cards to the homeless in Delhi and by reducing the number of night shelters that are utilised by the homeless especially in the present weather conditions, the Delhi government has violated the fundamental rights of the homeless persons guaranteed under the Constitution of India.\"   

The commissioners suggested that the Delhi government be directed to set up \"at least 500 community kitchens across the city, providing nutritious and cheap cooked food\".   

\"Issue AAY ration cards for all homeless people in Delhi with a validity of at least two years and renewable if they remain homeless in Delhi, latest by March 2010,\" they said.   

Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, a NGO that runs night shelters in Delhi, has estimated there are 150,000 homeless people in the capital.   

— Indo-Asian News Service

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