New Delhi — As the Indian capital continues to reel under its worst winter in many years, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the National Territory of Delhi government to provide night shelters by Wednesday evening local time to an estimated 150,000 homeless in New Delhi.
The apex court taking note of the plight of the homeless during the extreme old conditions in the Indian capital in its order issued Wednesday said: “The authorities must also ensure that the night shelters have basic amenities such as blankets, electricity and toilets, the apex court ruled.Justices Dalveer Bhandari and K.S. Radhakrishnan told the government representative to immediately advertise the locations of all the night shelters in the capital through television and print media.
The apex court passed the directions on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), complaining that the Delhi administration had failed to provide adequate shelter and food to the homeless and destitute.The court’s ruling applies only to the Indian capital, though it is the poor and homeless across India who are most affected by the intensity of the cold. Each winter, several deaths are reported.In general, central heating in India is unknown.
It is a common sight to see poor people, warming themselves over bonfires, made from scrap paper and broken branches of trees.The poor and the homeless are usually huddled by the authorities into night shelters, which are far from adequate both in numbers and facilities.
The apex court’s order sent top officials in a tizzy. In the past fortnight they drew flak from courts for callously demolishing a couple of temporary night shelters in the name of beautification ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in the Indian capital in October.There are currently 54 night shelters in Delhi. Their combined capacity cannot house even a small fraction of the capital’s estimated 150,000 homeless people.
READ THE ORDER DATED 20.01.2010