By: KARTIK KUMAR
The raen basera, a social initiative supposed to serve as a night shelter for the poor and homeless, has found no takers. Located behind the Sector-17 bus terminus, supervised by the UT Red Cross and funded by the Social Welfare Department, it remains under utilised. The reasons behind this include shifting of major public centres, lack of publicity and consequent poor public awareness.
The night shelter, which has 100 beds with 50 pay-and-use beds, has a tariff ranging between Rs 25 and 55 per bed depending on use of facilities.
The other 50 beds, which are free of charge, remain vacant. “Usually four to six beds are occupied every night. The shelter is yet to reach the double digit figure in terms of occupancy,” said Ranjeet Pal, receptionist at the night shelter.
The authorities responsible seem unflustered though. “The facility provided is ample and free of cost. However, the relocation of the district court and inter-state bus services to Sector-43 has lead to a substantial drop in the number of people coming here,” said a Red Cross staff member.
“The terminal has enough signboards for the night shelter, the policemen there also inform people about the service,” the staff member added.
However, many people sleeping on the footpath of the terminus are unaware of the existence of such a facility.
“I have been coming here since seven years. If I had been informed earlier, I would have accessed the facility and slept peacefully, away from the mosquitoes,” said Kirpal Chaudhary, resident of Yamunagar.
Interestingly, an incense stick seller said, “There is a night shelter in Sector-26 and another one at Manimajra. I do not think there is a shelter in this area. You may have been mistaken.”
Meanwhile, other travellers and homeless people who are aware of the facility prefer living on the street.
“We are not allowed to cook inside the premises. I would rather stay here (street) and feed my family. Also, the facility can be accessed only for 12 hours at a stretch which is a hassle,” said Savita Yadav, who works as a domestic help and hails from Uttar Pradesh.