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'Shift night shelters near needy's work places'

New Delhi,Human Interest/Society,Immigration/Law/Rights, Fri, 07 Dec 2012 IANS

New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Friday asked the city government to shift temporary night shelters for the homeless and the poor closer to their work places.

A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw allowed the plea of NGO Shahri Adhikar Manch Begharon Ke Liye that the shelters should be closer to the work place of people so that the poor can use the shelters in winter.

The bench also asked the government to pay DDA the cost of land allotted by it to set up permanent shelters and asked civic agencies to find out if buildings lying vacant could be converted into temporary night shelters.

The court's direction came after Delhi government's standing counsel Najmi Waziri said: "As per the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, 150 night shelters were required and the government has made 64 permanent shelters. The rest are temporary."

Waziri said that as per the Master Plan of Delhi, one shelter is required to be set up for five lakh people in the city.

He added that despite the facilities, some shelters were not occupied properly.

The NGO has alleged that the city government had failed to provide even basic amenities for the poor living in night shelters and they are in a "horrible" condition. It has further added that toilets at the night shelters are not functional and were "stinking".

The NGO had told the court that the night shelters should not be far away from the homeless people, adding: "If shelters are 20 km away from where they (homeless people) work, you cannot expect them to go there at night and go back to work in the morning."

The NGO had added: "It is December and the temperature is dipping day by day. Many people die every day due to cold. For the time being some kind of temporary shelters should be provided to these people or unused building can be used."

The court had earlier taken suo moto cognizance on a media report about the demolition of a night shelter set up by NGOs in Dec 2010 and the civic bodies doing nothing to protect the homeless from the cold.

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