New Delhi: People at night shelter homes have complained of lack of water facility, broken compound walls and unclean washrooms. They alleged that even after several requests to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), the complaints went unheeded. Meanwhile, a DUSIB official told The Sunday Guardian that the Ministry of Urban Development has appointed nodal officers to look into the complaints of various government departments.
At around 7 pm, as men start returning—some from work, while others from outstation—the caretakers ready themselves with thermal scanner, register book and sanitiser. Most of the men who are staying at the shelter homes are labourers.
As the temperature dips and Covid-19 cases surge, the shelter homes, set up by the DUSIB, have a difficult task in hand to ensure that the destitutes are not infected with the virus.
Yogendra, a caretaker at Sarai Kale Khan, welcomes the people and asks them to register their name and mobile number in a register book. He said, “The government has given us all the equipment such as thermal scanners, masks and sanitisers to distribute to those who do not have them. But here, we have a different problem. Water tanker comes once in four days or in a week. We have complained to the DUSIB several times, but there is no response from the department. Furthermore, the boundary wall is broken due to which some anti-social elements enter the homes and create nuisance.” The Sunday Guardian visited five shelter homes—two in Sarai Kale Khan, one each in Karol Bagh, Okhla, and Mayur Vihar Phase 1. Except the shelter home outside the Sarai Kale Khan Nizamuddin metro station, bathroom conditions in shelter homes at other places were found to be in a bad condition. Even the washrooms were not cleaned.
As the government has asked the shelter homes to follow social distancing, the occupancy has also reduced to half. “Before the pandemic, we used to allow 60 people, but the DUSIB has asked us to allow only 20 people,” said Suresh Nanda, a caretaker at Karol Bagh near Liberty cinema.
However, when this correspondent visited the shelter homes, it was found that most of them had more occupancy than the prescribed limit.
Bipin Rai, member of DUSIB, said, “On 25 November, the Ministry of Urban Development has appointed a nodal officer to look into the complaints of other departments. Due to the pandemic, the Centre had put all developmental work on hold. Soon, the work will begin.”
Rai further said that the DUSIB will set up over 250 tents to decongest other shelter homes in Delhi. “By setting up more tents, we can avert the risk of spreading Covid in the shelter homes. The ministry has given approval to set up tents across Delhi. The work would start soon,” he said.