Out of about 32 de-addiction centres purportedly opened by the Delhi government on court directions, only three are actually functional, of which one is not even in Delhi but in Ghaziabad. Further, the centres require that an attendant accompany the addict, making them out of reach of homeless addicts in the city, claims an affidavit filed by the Shahari Adhikar Manch (SAM:BKS), an umbrella group of NGOs working for the homeless in the capital.
The Delhi High Court had, in 2010, taken up the problem of the homeless in Delhi, and has been monitoring issues with regard to lack of night shelters and other facilities for them. The affidavit was filed by SAM during a hearing on the suo motu PIL on Wednesday in response to reports filed by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and the Delhi Police.
SAM:BKS, in its affidavit, also alleged no action had been taken on several complaints of alleged police brutality, which had been referred to the NHRC by the High Court in April. “No hearing has been done so far,” SAM executive committee member Indu Prakash said during the brief hearing before the court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw.
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Even as the DUSIB affidavit claims there are 184 functional night shelters in the city, 82 permanent shelters and 102 portacabins, while eight more sites have been identified for permanent shelters, SAM said the problems with the shelters have not been dealt with.
DUSIB further stated that 10 vacant community centres and five sheds were also being considered for use as temporary shelters. “More sites are required from the land-owning agencies… Till now, the approach of the other agencies is only to offer open land pockets to DUSIB for establishing night shelters. Construction/establishment of night shelters on open pockets of land, apart from involving huge capital expenditure, also requires considerable time,” DUSIB states.
The NGOs, however, say the unavailability of toilets and charges being imposed for use of the shelters keep out the homeless. “DUSIB made charging Rs 6 in shelters per shift mandatory, due to which many homeless residents moved to the streets and died in the summer,” the SAM affidavit alleges.
The affidavit also says that no meeting of the Joint Apex Advisory Committee, constituted in 2002 on court orders, has been held since February this year.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police has filed an affidavit stating it had committed no violations. The NGOs alleged police were forcing the homeless to give their fingerprints, which they say is illegal.