Stating that if government agencies took so long to provide shelter homes in the city, no space would be left for the homeless in Mumbai, the Bombay High Court directed all government agencies concerned to specify what assistance it required so that the court could pass relevant directions during the next hearing on November 25.
“Submit an affidavit on what assistance you need from the state government and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority so that we can issue relevant directions in this matter,” Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari observed, asking all parties to submit their affidavit by November 25.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Homeless Collective through lawyers Gayatri Singh, who informed the court that many cancer patients who came to the city for treatment slept on pavements due to lack of shelter homes in the city.
While hearing the problems faced by the civic body in setting up shelter homes, the court observed, “Is it not your obligation to construct shelters as per government regulations. Is there any escape?”
The petitioner maintained that for every one lakh population in a city, there should one night shelter as per the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM). According to that norm, Mumbai should have 207 shelters but only nine night shelters are operating at the moment, the PIL pointed out, as opposed to the 25 that were promised in 2012.
The BMC is supposed to construct shelter homes with the state government providing funds and MHADA giving requisite land to set up shelter homes. Singh informed the court that 90 per cent funds had already been received from the Centre.
The court was also informed that there was some dispute on the population figures of the city, which was supposed to decide the number of shelters that needed to be set-up in the city. The petitioner said the population stood at 2 crore, while according to the BMC it was 1.25 crore, and therefore it needed to set up 125 shelters.
The court had in the last hearing taken a stern view over non-compliance of their earlier orders for providing shelter homes in the state.