With the existing night shelters being inadequate, the majority of the 15,000 homeless people in Chennai district and parts of Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts don’t know where to go, especially during the rains.
Shifting the homeless to neighbourhood schools during thunderstorms such as the one on Wednesday, is not a good option. Such a move can affect students’ education, say school authorities.
Studying all these issues, the Chennai Corporation has come up with a plan. It proposes to accommodate a number of the homeless on the premises of the modern Communicable Diseases Hospital in Tondiarpet. The first of the newly added blocks, which comprises 120 beds and kitchen, as well as the administrative blocks at the hospital started functioning a few months ago.
The civic body believes that with these additional blocks, the hospital, situated on Tiruvottiyur High Road, can accommodate the homeless. The move may also make it easier for the civic body to screen the homeless for communicable diseases, which they are prone to contract during the northeast monsoon.
The Corporation is also planning to rope in NGOs to tackle the issue. It plans to construct an additional 35 night shelters and entrust them with NGOs. This decision has been taken in light of the growing numbers of the homeless in the city. The Chennai district alone accounts for most of the 15,000 homeless in the Corporation limits. The civic body has identified 2,586 homeless families comprising a total of 11,116 persons in Chennai district. The largest number lives along NSC Bose Road, with 1,864 families found on the 29 streets around the road.
However, the proposal for construction of additional night shelters is yet to be implemented. MoUs have been signed with NGOs such as The Banyan.
At present, the Corporation runs 15 night shelters. Areas covered include R.R. Nagar in Kodungaiyur, Desiya Nagar in New Washermenpet, Communicable Diseases Hospital in Tondiarpet, Kannappar Thidal, Rajaji Salai, Chintadripet, Sembium, Choolai, Teynampet, Mandaveli, Santhome, Chinmaya Nagar and Saidapet.
Apart from the 35 night shelters, the civic body intends to open eight more for the homeless in Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Alandur, Sholinganallur, Madhavaram, Ambattur, Valasaravakkam and Perungudi.