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Delhi government indifferent to homeless women: NGOs

Apr 10, 2013

Delhi-based organisations working on the rights of the homeless have criticised the city government for ignoring the safety and security of the homeless people, especially women.

New Delhi: At a press conference in Delhi on Tuesday, the Shahri Adhikar Manch: Begharon Ke Saath (SAM- BKS), a coalition of organisations and individuals, drew attention to the acute shortage of shelters for women in India’s capital city. Shivani Chaudhry, Associate Director, Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), said “It is a matter of national shame that in the capital of India, there exists only one permanent shelter for over 10,000 homeless women, and that too is run by an NGO and not the government.”

She added that despite the intensified discussions on women’s safety, homeless women continue to face the worst forms of violence and sexual abuse on a daily basis. Chaudhry said that homeless women do not figure in any government policy or scheme.

“Nobody can say that Delhi is safe for women. How could we even think that homeless women are safe in this city? What about their safety?” said Indu Prakash Singh, who is leading the Indo-Global Social Service Society’s (IGSSS) programme on the homeless, euphemised as the city-makers by virtue of their contribution to the city’s development.

The NGOs said that the government’s callous attitude towards the dispossessed was shown by the fact that despite around 400 vacant government buildings, the people still have to live their lives on the streets.

Miloon Kothari, Executive Director, HLRN, said, “The Delhi High Court has, through its suo moto case, been monitoring the issue of homelessness in Delhi form over four years now. Despite clear instructions from the court, authorities continue to treat the homeless with hostility and the primary agency responsible for the homeless, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), lurches from crisis to crisis. Surely, Delhi’s city makers deserve better than a callous, corrupt and uncaring government.”

Singh pointed out that the Delhi government has been insensitive towards the homeless people which is seen by the fact that an engineering body like DUSIB has been appointed as the nodal agency to take care of the homeless people. He added that instead of dealing with the issue, DUSIB and other authorities are harassing them through various ways.

The speakers suggested that existing funds should be utilised to create permanent shelters for the homeless and also short stay homes for survivors of domestic violence.

As recently as January 2013, the media had reported a scam over the siphoning off Rs 20 crore meant for night shelters. The government’s Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had recommended major penalty proceedings including dismissal from service against 28 DUSIB officials.

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