Winter season has already commenced and markets are loaded with dry-fruits and beetroots. There is something unusually pleasant about winters in the capital city; spine-chilling cold winds bring a feeling of excitement (though some people find winters extremely unpleasant).
Like every year, the country’s government has a big challenge standing firmly in front of it: the needs of homeless people. India is a land of diversity and, sadly, with time, it has also become the land of homelessness too. The country, on an average, has about 78 million homeless people, and the majority of them live in Delhi. The capital city occupies 1,483 sq km and is populated by nearly 14 million people.
Homeless people are usually migrants, who come to the big city from villages in search for employment. They have nowhere to settle, have no roof over their heads, and so they reside near metro stations and bus stands. Every year, winters expose the vulnerability of these homeless people. Many have lost their lives in the past due to the lack of shelter and still many homeless people can be seen lying around slums in the national capital.
Apart from the cold winters, these homeless people face various other problems. One of the huge concerns is the safety of women. There are certain people who rape homeless women, when they have fallen asleep. Due to a lack of a proper house, people usually sleep either on roadsides, or in parks, where security is nil. Small girls and boys are kidnapped during the night, and perverts rape them.
Another problem is the lack of sanitation facilities. They either have to use public toilets, which are not hygienic, or they use some open space for personal hygiene. Various other problems like rain, cold winters, scorching heat, angry traffic, and the absence of food for homeless people call for the government’s attention. Every winter season, living humans are made to turn into corpses due to the unavailability of night shelters, and blankets. Cold winter nights become unbearable.
What steps have the government taken?
Various shelters (separately for men, women, and families) have been established. The government has offered small houses to a few homeless people. However, homelessness is a complicated issue, which needs serious effort to solve. After the Muzaffarpur shelter case, where abuse was found to be rampant, many people didn’t find it appropriate to reside in a shelter home. This denotes that the Indian population, especially the people below the poverty line, have lost faith in the government. The government of India must realise the dire need of proper housing facilities for homeless people in the country.
It has been estimated that many homeless aren’t even aware of the presence of shelter homes. Employment opportunities should be increased. Unskilled labourers should be provided minor jobs in shelter homes where they can work and live at the same time. The government must pay heed to the plight of homeless people. In the communal rupturing of the country, a shift of focus is needed on issues which require immediate concern, such as this one.