Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) has adopted berth area measurements used by Railways.

A fortnight after being pulled up by the Delhi High Court for the pitiable condition of homeless persons here, the Delhi Government on Wednesday said it had adopted 15 square feet as the minimum area required for comfortable stay of one homeless person in a night shelter.

The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) told a Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed that “in absence of any norms prescribing space requirement of an individual or a family, it has in principle adopted the berth area used by the Railways, i.e., 15 sq. ft. as the minimum area required for comfortable stay of one person in a night shelter.”

It said the same was also adopted in view of the fact that it was difficult to get adequate space at places where there is concentration of homeless persons.

The DUSIB made the submission in an affidavit filed in response to court’s query on how much space is sufficient for an individual or a family of 10 for a comfortable stay in the night shelter.

The court was hearing a matter pertaining to homeless people in the city, of which it had taken suo motu cognizance.

Advocate Reena George, who is representing the homeless people, also told the court that the government was not making payment to the NGOs running voluntary night shelters.

At this, the Bench noted the DUSIB’s submission that additional payments had been sanctioned by the Government and directed that the amount be paid before March 26.

The Board, meanwhile, said that after the amended Master Plan 2021, it had constructed 231 night shelters for nearly 150 lakh people. Of these, 84 are permanent shelters, 98 porta cabins, 22 tents and 27 are shelters run by voluntary organisations.

Compliance affidavit

A compliance affidavit was also filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Police Headquarters.

It detailed 17 cases of harassment of homeless people, allegedly at the hands of police personnel leading to deaths, implication in criminal cases, etc., and said that in April 2011, a head constable was inquired against and censured after social worker Indu Prakash Singh lodged a complaint against him.

The affidavit also talked about the death of a homeless woman named Alka after she was allegedly beaten up by the police.

The police said it was found that the personnel accused of harassing her were not on duty in the area and that the cause of her death could be ascertained only after medical report of her viscera is received from the Forensic Science Laboratory.

Mr. Singh, the executive committee member of Shahri Adhikar Manch: Begharon Ke Saath, had prepared a list of alleged cases of police atrocities against homeless people and submitted the same to the police in pursuance of the High Court’s February 26 order.

The Bench had on February 26 pulled up the police and civic agencies for the pitiable condition of the homeless in the city.

It was moved by pictures of homeless people being harassed or dying on the streets and asked the police to lodge FIRs on complaints of their harassment after preliminary inquiry.

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