As the cold wave intensifies in north India, the minimum temperature in Delhi drops to 6.4 degree Celsius. Taking this opportunity to help the homeless the Delhi government has once again rolled its ‘Winter Action’ plan to provide aid to the needy people. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently announced that additional bunk beds, geysers would be installed at the city’s many night shelters to ensure that homeless people do not die in the winter chill. Even the department of health started its drive to provide medical treatment to the homeless. In order to accommodate the families of patients, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) opened the subway where around 300 people waiting outside the hospital took refuge during on Saturday night. According to the officials, no deaths have been reported so far. People can call the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) control room for information on the homeless. The agency has also launched a Rain Basera mobile app, which can be used to upload photographs of the homeless with their location.In 2001, the Census pegged Delhi’s homeless at 21,895 while an independent study by Ashray Adhika Abhiyan in 2000 claimed the number stands at 52,765. The 2011 Census found that there are 46,724 homeless people in the city. The same year, the Supreme Court Commissioner’s Office (SCCO), DUSIB and other NGOs conducted an enumeration of the homeless population and found the figure to be 2,46,800.DUSIB has 83 permanent night shelters, 113 porta cabins and 55 temporary shelters, which can together accommodate around 20,000 people.In 2014, the then Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung had ordered that subways in areas with a dense homeless population, such as AIIMS and Kashmere Gate, be opened for the homeless during winter — providing some respite from the cold for those sleeping outside AIIMS. This year, however, subways at both locations are locked every night.HELPING THE NEEDYDUSIB has 83 permanent night shelters, 113 porta cabins and 55 temporary shelters, which can together accommodate around 20,000 people. There are an estimated 40,000 homeless people in the capital but a little more than 10,000 use these shelters. EXPERT SPEAKWe have asked the medical teams to visit the shelters twice a week. We have 83 permanent night shelters, 113 porta cabins and 55 temporary shelters, which can together accommodate around 20,000 people. All are safe as we around 20 night shelters are reserved for women and CCTV cameras have been installed for their safety. —Shurbir Singh, DUSIB CEOVOICESThe condition of homeless people in the capital is extremely deplorable, which worsens during winter season. It is very saddening to see them battle extreme weather out in the open as Delhi has very few night shelters. The government too seems indifferent to the plight of such people who brave cold nights every year in winters. It must provide some relief to them in this weather, especially to women and children.—Ashish Kaushal, Lajpat NagarThe government should put in more efforts to improve the condition of the existing night shelters. There are many people who are still living on the streets and loosing their lives due to the extreme weather conditions. There should be more awareness about these shelters to the general public. —Saurabh Galhotra, Greater Kailash Despite government’s claims of having enough night shelters in the city hundreds of people sleep on streets in our locality. Things become even more vulnerable for them in winter and for women it is highly unsafe to sleep on streets. We see a large number of people dying every year due to the dip in temperature. —Kamala Devi, TrilokpuriThe government has taken a right decision by converting these subways into the night shelters. Most of the time, these subways are occupied with anti-social elements and the government property is lying wasted. By converting them into night shelters, these places are providing space to the large number of homeless people in the capital —Sunita Kaushik, Geeta ColonyWe have several night shelters in our locality and most of us donate food and clothing. It is a happy feeling to see these people happy. The government is providing good facilities to the homeless in Delhi in comparison to other states. But considering the population of Delhi more initiatives needs to be taken.—Mohita Khatri, Civil Lines Every time I cross the AIIMS I see large number of people sleeping on pavements. It aches my heart to see these people sleeping on the roads. The government has provided night shelters but they are not enough in winters at least. More such night shelters with better facilities are required in the capital. —Lakshay, Hauz Khas
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