It remains to be seen whether the GHMC has the wherewithal to go ahead with its night shelters plan as its drive to make Hyderabad beggar-free fell flat in its face

In what could invite the wrath of the city dwellers and commuters, the GHMC is coming out with a grand idea to provide night shelters for the homeless in the open spaces beneath the flyovers. To begin with, such shelters could soon come up at the flyovers of Dabeerpura and Begumpet.

Additional Commissioner (Urban Community Development), GHMC, C.N. Raghu Prasad said that officials have identified the `space’ under the flyovers for setting up the night shelters. He said this was in tune with the long-pending proposal for construction of night shelters under various flyovers in the city. He said this at an open forum organised by the ‘Campaign 4 Citizens Shelters’ (C4CS) here on Friday.

Admitting to failure by the corporation in reaching the target number of night shelters as per the Supreme Court directive, Mr. Prasad blamed it on local residents’ reluctance to house the homeless in community halls. People were concerned about anti-social elements residing in the neighbourhood, and awareness campaigns in the identified locations were the only way-out, he said.

Also on cards are proposals to construct shelter homes near the labour pick-up points, and transit homes for migrant labourers. NGO partners to the campaign, however, complained of inordinate delay and official apathy in providing night shelters for the homeless.

It was in 2010 that the Apex Court had directed all the State governments to open night shelters -- one for each lakh of population -- wherever population exceeded five lakh. The homes should have all basic amenities such as power, water, toilets, fully equipped kitchen, beds, fans, lights, recreation facilities and opportunities to learn livelihood skills.

Accordingly, the GHMC ought to have opened 60 night shelters by the end of 2010. However, the city has only nine shelters, three for women and six for men, managed by NGO partners.

As of now, 11 buildings have been shortlisted by the corporation apart from the nine already existing, but shelters are yet to be set up. “Even those existing are devoid of the basic minimum facilities,” said K. Anuradha, convenor of the campaign, “There is no electricity in two homes, no toilets in four, no lockers in seven, and no drinking water in many homes,” she said.

Of the 50 buildings initially identified by GHMC, 20 to 25 are not fit for being shelter homes, Ms. Anuradha said. “We have been told that there is a provision for Rs. 3 lakh grant for each night shelter. But GHMC is not doing anything,” she complained.

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