The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) on Friday told the Delhi High Court that “homeless rescue teams” have been created to patrol areas near the shelters, and to transport homeless persons sleeping on roads to the shelters.
Officials said the teams consist of members of the NGOs that manage night shelters in the city. It has been launched this week as part of DUSIB’s “winter action plan”.
According to the affidavit filed by the agency, the rescue teams will be responsible for shifting the homeless to hospitals or shelters, as needed. The affidavit further states that space had been allocated to create temporary night shelters in basti vikas kendras and community centers in nine areas.
The High Court, however, noted that the move seemed to have “shifted responsibility” to the NGOs. “You (DUSIB) have to identify the areas and conduct a survey. What are the NGOs doing?” the court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw said.
The court has been monitoring the issue of night shelters for the homeless since 2010. On Wednesday, it had directed DUSIB to give details of the steps taken to ensure that the homeless are not left without shelter.
The court had previously asked various government agencies to allow DUSIB to create temporary shelters on their land or buildings.
On Friday, the counsel for the Indian Railway said allowing shelters in or near railway stations would cause safety concerns. “Trains run through the night. If you allow people to sleep near the tracks, there could be train-accident related deaths instead of cold weather-induced deaths,” the counsel said.
The submissions from the Railways came after DUSIB said it did not have any land in the walled city to create new shelters, even though many homeless persons live near the Old Delhi and New Delhi railway stations.
The court has now asked the agencies concerned to discuss the issue of providing space in government-owned buildings and other areas. The court will issue directions on the matter in January.