Rehabilitation of destitute including beggars has once again begun to haunt GHMC. While earlier such projects have been flops for various reasons, it is in a tearing hurry to open at least 10 night shelters by next month.

If not for the Standing Committee holding back clearance till the project was studied in depth by the members, Urban Community Development (UCD) officials would have gone ahead to select a private partner in the form of a non-governmental organisation to run the shelters in designated municipal community halls under the public, private partnership mode.

Committee members pointed out that modalities for the project like financial issues were yet to be hammered out and wanted a wider discussion before being approved. They were also keen to know the security, rehabilitation and other aspects for the poor being taken into such shelters.

Plan is to start 10 night shelters, two each in the five zones to accommodate the 994-odd homeless destitute identified in various parts of the capital. Ideally, there has to be one shelter for every one lakh population and hence 60 such shelters are required for the population as per the 2001 census.

UCD officials want to begin with the 10 before going for new shelters as the Supreme Court has given time till December to open and run night shelters for the homeless. The select night shelters with provision for power, beds, drinking water and toilet facilities are to be first spruced up by taking up repairs of the existing halls where these are coming up.

Also part of the scheme is to provide basic health care, counselling on addictions, ascertain their capabilities to provide some kind of vocational training and other life skills with the help of NGOs. Despite misgivings considering the ham-handed way in which the earlier such rehabilitation centres have been handled there is perceptible urgency in the getting it off the ground because the Apex court has asked other States to visit shelters being set up here and emulate.

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