The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to convert the four night shelters for homeless children in the city to ‘day-night shelter homes’, in order to avail funds under the Centre’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM), which grants funds only for such day-night shelters. The civic body had been unable to procure funds under DAY-NULM for its night shelters earlier.
In a proposal tabled in the PMC Standing Committee, Municipal Commissioner Sourabh Rao has sought approval to appoint four agencies to run the day-night shelters for three years. “The civic administration should be given permission to convert the night shelter into day-night shelter homes, after getting approval of the state government, and use the government funds available for the purpose,” he said.
“The PMC should be allowed to appoint four agencies for three years to implement the night shelter project and make agreements with them every year,” stated the proposal. The project already has a budgetary provision of Rs one crore for the current financial year. The four shortlisted agencies are John Paul Slum Development Project, Pune Youth Foundation, Janhavi Foundation and OBC Seva Sangh.
The Supreme Court had earlier directed that all urban areas that have a population of over five lakh should have night shelters for homeless children, with one night shelter each for a population of one lakh. With a population of 38 lakh in areas under its jurisdiction, the PMC is supposed to set up 38 night shelters in the city, but has managed to set up only four so far. The civic body has faced issues such as unavailability of property and opposition from local residents and elected representatives while setting up night shelters. It had also been unable to identify agencies to implement the night shelter projects.
The shelter homes are supposed to be set up at sites close to the railway station, bus stands, public hospitals, religious places, tourist destinations and main market areas. Each shelter can accommodate a maximum of 100 children. with separate living spaces for girls and boys. Children between 5 and 12 years can live in the shelters. The concerned agency or social organisation should have details, and a photograph, of each child, and this information should be shared with local police and civic administration. Each child should also undergo a medical check-up once in a year.
The civic administration has said children from families living on the streets, orphans or those who had migrated to the city, and were homeless, would be eligible to stay at the shelters. The PMC has also warned the agencies in charge of the shelters that no child, who was an inmate of the home, should be found begging on the streets.