There are an estimated 4,000 homeless persons in the city, whose 13 shelter homes come a cropper in November’s chilly nights

Every night, for the last one week, Kumar Subramanyam (45) has been roaming the pavements of Padmarao Nagar, trying to find a warm spot to nestle in. He is homeless, and the winds are not too kind in November. This has been his ordeal, year after year.

Like him, an estimated 4,000 others suffer the same across the city – it hasn’t enough night shelters to accommodate them all, and to protect them from the cold weather, which is currently hovering between 18 to 19 degrees Celsius.

Data from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) says there are 13 shelter homes in the city – at Bible House, Namalgundu, Ambedkar Nagar, Uppal, Yousufguda, Golnaka, Hafeezpet, Shivrampally, L.B. Nagar, Kapra, Serilingampally, Kacheguda and Malkajgiri. All of them together cannot house more than 600 people.

A 2012 survey revealed that there were 4,463 homeless persons in the city. NGOs, however, claim the number to be much higher if migrants are also counted.

“The government should at least provide such persons with blankets and warm clothes to sleep comfortably at night. Also, instead of trying to find new spaces, authorities should build night shelters at places where many people sleep on pavements, like railway stations and bus stands,” said Bharat, programme officer at ActionAid India.

His organisation, among many others, jointly runs the 13 shelter homes in association with GHMC.

“Before building night shelters, citizens must be sensitised. People sleeping on pavements need help from the society,” Mr. Bharat averred.

This is a major issue, given that there is resistance from residents in colonies where the shelters are being run, say NGOs and government officials.

Shashi Kirana Chary, Project Director of the GHMC’s Urban Community Development (UCD), said his department was planning various proposals to tackle the issue, and that concrete decisions would be taken soon.

GHMC’s show of support

The GHMC is contemplating opening up its own offices to the homeless at night. Two office buildings are to be utilised for the purpose on a trial basis. If successful, it could be replicated in others.

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