Updated: April 30, 2022 11:41:33 am
Around 70-80 homeless people staying at the Haj Manzil, a temporary shelter home, have been asked to vacate the premises by May 1, after the Delhi government issued a notice citing arrangements for Hajj. The inhabitants mostly include senior citizens abandoned by their families.
“DUSIB has been pleased to grant further extensions to night shelters code number 627 and 628 only for a period of one month, May 1 to May 31. However, no further extension has been given to shelter code number 628, Haj Manzil, Asaf Ali Road (basement and ground floor), as arrangements are to be carried out in the shelter homes. SMA, SPYM, shall hand over the building immediately by May 1,” read the order issued by deputy director of DUSIB (Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board).
DUSIB had set up 11 shelter homes across the city in 2020, when the first nationwide lockdown was imposed, and several elderly persons living on the streets were shifted here. Out of these, eight shelters have been closed. Haj Manzil is to be vacated and the two other shelters, situated in Central Delhi, have been given a month’s extension.
The Haj Manzil, located near Turkman Gate, has about 60-70 men, including students and daily wagers. Among them is Deepak Kumar, a 24-year-old student at Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (SOL). “I came here two years ago when the first lockdown was imposed. I am from Indore but I grew up on the streets and managed to complete my schooling. I got into college with help from an NGO. Now my exams are nearing and the government has issued a notice to vacate the premises,” he said.
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Kumar, who is also preparing for the UPSC exam during the day and works as a salesman at a 24/7 outlet at night, added: “I did all sorts of jobs, from sweeping to collecting garbage, to pay for school and college. Now I work night shifts and earn Rs 12,000 so I can shift to a regular college and afford coaching for competitive exams.”
Another resident, Arjun (70), said: “They have asked us to vacate within three days. We will have to go back to sleeping on footpaths and risk our lives… in this scorching heat.”
Hukum (65) said, “I used to work as a guard but now I work in a dawa khana (pharmacy) as a cleaner. Many of us here have lost our loved ones to Covid and have no one to turn to for help or shelter.”
When contacted, DUSIB CEO Bipin Rai said, “This is not a permanent shelter home. We use the building for temporary purposes like during the lockdown, as an isolation or quarantine centre, and as a night shelter in winters. The building was primarily constructed for providing accommodation to people from other states who are planning to go for Hajj. The residents will be relocated to another rain basera.”
Delhi has 195 shelter homes with a capacity to accommodate around 17,000 homeless people. As per DUSIB, there are an estimated 16,760 homeless people in Delhi.
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