Pulling up the state government for not complying with its earlier orders pertaining to setting up of night shelters by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Bombay High Court Tuesday said that the government should consider earmarking certain lands for setting up night shelters in Mumbai while finalising the development plan.
Justices A S Oka and V L Achliya were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO, Homeless Collective.
“The state shall consider setting up of night shelters in Mumbai while finalising the development plan. Similar reservation can be provided for setting up of shelters for urban homeless under the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM),” said the court.
In an earlier hearing, the HC had directed the chief secretary of the Maharashtra government to convene a meeting of all authorities from whom land and buildings can be procured for the purpose of setting up of night shelters by the BMC.
The government pleader informed the court that while they had received the required funds from the central government, they were waiting for BMC to send a proposal with regard to night shelters to sanction the proposal.
“The affidavit by the urban development states that the meeting was convened by the chief secretary, however, nothing concrete has transpired in the meeting. The state has not complied with the orders of the court,” observed the court.
While nine shelters are operational at present, BMC has published advertisements in a newspapers for operation and maintenance of night shelters in seven more locations.
“We direct the BMC to send a proposal to the principal secretary of the urban development department pertaining to setting up of shelter homes. The location for setting up such shelters and the financial assistance required shall be incorporated in the proposal,” said the Bench.
The HC has granted BMC 15 days to submit such a proposal and has asked the state government to take an appropriate decision on or before October 17.
Stating that while they were not initiating any action against the state at this point, the HC said that it hoped that the government would comply with its orders. “Non-compliance will be viewed very seriously considering the obligation of the state and the large amount of funds that have been placed under them,” said the HC.
The BMC said that in total over a 100 shelters would be required to be set up in Mumbai. With the state government stating that each shelters of 1000 to 1500 sq feet would accommodate 50 to 75 people, the senior counsel appearing for the BMC, S U Kamdar, said that “they can’t have inhuman shelters.”
The apex court had also recorded that over Rs 100 crore had been made available to the government under NULM.