A patchy plastic sheet offers them protection from the elements.
Most of the time, the sky is the roof over their heads. They sleep under flyovers, at railway stations, temples and prayer halls, open sites and footpaths. That is the state of the homeless in the city.
The Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), along with 30 civil society groups, undertook a survey of homeless persons in the city. Around 200 volunteers were involved in the survey in all the 198 wards.
The volunteers came up with 17,141 homeless people in the city.
However, they also said the figure was only indicative and that for every homeless person they found, two may have been left out.
K.C. Venkatesh of Paraspara Trust said the volunteers found 2,154 homeless in the south zone, 5,916 in the east, 4,316 in the west, 1,642 in Mahadevapura, 273 in Byatarayanapura, 2,130 in Bommanahalli, 474 in Rajarajeshwarinagar and 236 in Dasarahalli zones.
“Urban homeless were found in Majestic, Cantonment and Yeshwanthpur areas. However, these are not the actual numbers. For every homeless person found, two may have been left out. We estimate that there may be many more in the city,” he said.
The urban homeless are a city's most visible yet least-noticed residents. One can find them sleeping on footpaths, under flyovers and at railway and bus stations. Mr. Venkatesh said hundreds have also been picked up during the recent anti-beggary drive.
“The Supreme Court has directed State Governments to report what is being done for the homeless. It said that for every one lakh population, there must be one shelter. So, for the 80 lakh population in Bangalore, we need to have 80 shelters,” he said.
Mr. Venkatesh said it was not civil society's responsibility to survey a city's homeless.
“The Government should take the initiative. Many live in areas difficult to access. Also, for security reasons, they have street dogs as pets. These dogs are protective and do not let anyone come near them,” he said.
Indu Prakash Singh from IGSSS said the number of homeless found by the survey were indicative of the fact that there were hundreds more. “It has been found that 99 per cent of the economically weaker and allied sections have been left out of government policies. Many do not have any sort of identification and thus do not get access to any benefits,” he said
He also said that the IGSSS proposed to take up a building audit to see which government or corporation building in the city may be converted into a shelter, as was done in Delhi. “We will submit our report to the Government and urge it to include these homeless in the Census 2010,” he added.