Even as city residents shiver in the biting cold and find it difficult to keep themselves warm in the cozy confines of their homes,there are some who do not have this privilege. A large number of shelterless people can be seen braving the chill on the pavements and corridors of markets in different sectors.
A visit to any of the markets shows a large number of people taking shelter in the corridors. Bus stops are another preferred spot. Huddled under blankets,they light bonfires to keep themselves warm. There are families who have occupied the same spot in the corridors for years.
These people who usually pull rickshaws,collect trash and beg in the daytime can be easily seen in the markets of various sectors at night with all their belongings on the floor.
Hariram,a garbage collector,said,I get free after picking trash till eleven or twelve in the night and sleep in the market in Sector 22. Sometimes the police kicks us out from there and in that situation we go to Sector 35. Almost 20-30 people sleep here at night.
Usually,these are the people who come to the Tricity from other states to earn their livelihood. These people have no awareness about the Social Welfare Department deciding to provide shelter free of cost till February at the Raen Baseras in Sector 17 and 26. Otherwise they are charged Rs 40 per night.
While talking to Newsline,UT Home Secretary Anil Kumar said that they were making attempts to create awareness among the shelterless about free stay provision at Raen Basera for three months. He added that teams of Social Welfare Department have checked different hideouts and market places where many shelterless people are known to be staying and have informed them about this free scheme.
Mahesh Prasad,a rickshaw puller told Newsline that he was pulling rickshaw in Chandigarh from last eight years. I usually sleep outside the shops in Sector 22 on my rickshaw, he says. On asking about accommodation given to them in the night shelter,he said,Money is charged for staying at the night shelter. I do not know about any free shelter service.