State govt obliged to ensure funds, land for night shelters, says HC

BMC says it plans 18 more shelters in addition to the existing 7 in the city.

| Mumbai | Published: December 17, 2014 11:06:59 am

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it was an obligation of the state government to ensure that adequate funds and plots are made available to municipal authorities across the state for construction of night shelters for homeless people.

A bench of Justices A S Oka and A S Gadkari, which was hearing a public interest litigation filed by an NGO Homeless Collective, cited assurances given by the state government to the apex court in 2010 while making the observation.

The HC also gave specific directions relating to providing land and funding to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for setting up 25 shelter homes in Mumbai and asked the state government to file an affidavit in this regard.

According to an affidavit filed by BMC, there are seven night shelters operational in the city. It further stated that it intends to set up 18 more shelters in the city, which can accommodate 50-75 persons each.

To verify the nature of facilities provided in the shelter homes in Mumbai, the court has asked the petitioner’s lawyer, Gayatri Singh, to give names of two members of the bar who will work as court commissioners and will visit the existing seven shelters in Mumbai. “The assistant commissioner (planning) BMC shall issue special identify cards to them. They shall enter night facilities and inspect the facilities and submit a report by January 30, 2015,” the court said. One visit shall be after prior intimation to the BMC while the other shall be a surprise visit, it said.

“There are broadly two issues. First is the implementation of assurance given to Supreme Court by the state government, while the second pertains to implementation of the scheme for urban homeless under the National Urban Livelihood Mission,” the court said.

The petitioner had argued that for every 1 lakh population in the city, there should one night shelter as per the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM).

“We direct the government to file a detailed affidavit specifying the manner in which they propose to implement the scheme for providing shelters for urban homeless under NULM. It shall state whether it has issued directions to local authorities to implement the scheme. If it has not been done, then it should pass relevant orders in this regard,” the HC said. The next hearing on the matter will be held on January 30, 2015.

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