To provide home for homeless, Indian government plans to convert old railway coaches into shelters for the homeless. They plan to complete this before winter starts as a step to avoid bad circumstances then. “The main issue to building shelters in the cities is the lack of land. We are looking into possible solutions; this is a temporary solution until then”, an official stated. The government this month asked states to consider fitting electricity and sewerage connections in old passenger coaches, and installing them across the areas in the city where shelters are needed.
The urban homeless population in India has rose by a fifth over last decade, as thousands of people migrated from villages to towns and cities in search of better living. Every year, hundreds of people die from exposure to the cold or heat on pavements and station platforms.
In 2010, The Supreme Court had ordered to provide one homeless shelter for every 100,000 people in 62 cities, with facilities including drinking water, subsidised meals, beds and lockers. But only few states have implemented this. Hence last year, the Supreme Court banged the government for failing to provide shelters, despite availability of funds.
A panel appointed by the Supreme Court said money alloted for shelters was being diverted for other purposes resulting in the homeless continuing to live on the streets. “Funding is not a problem anywhere, but homelessness is not a priority for states,” Kailash Gambhir, a former judge who headed the panel, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Land is an issue, and officials are also afraid that more migrant workers will come if there are more shelters. We had made several suggestions, including charging a nominal rent, but states are not following through,” he said.
India has committed to provide shelter for all by 2022 by creating 20 million new units. But the slow pace of implementation is leaving thousands homeless as during this process slum dwellers are evicted.
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