The Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan here has disputed the Rajasthan Government's claim about night shelters being run by all municipalities across the State and providing living spaces to the poor with dignity, as stated in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court six months ago, and demanded corrective measures to provide succour to the homeless people.
Releasing the findings of a survey report prepared by a group of law students in the third and fourth weeks of December here on Sunday, the Abhiyan said the State Government was not committed towards the care and protection of the homeless and there were a lot of variations in the night shelters currently operational because of lack of a definite policy and guidelines.
The then State Chief Secretary T. Srinivasan stated in his affidavit filed in the apex court in the case of People's Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India on July 20, 2010, that a total of 240 night shelters were being run in the State and new guidelines had been framed for them, while infrastructure facilities were being provided at these shelters to ensure “dignity of an individual.”
Only on papers
The Abhiyan, supported by the PUCL, stated that a large number of night shelters in big cities such as Jaipur, Ajmer, Bikaner, Kota and Jodhpur existed only on papers and the majority of the existing shelters were temporary in nature, being run on the pavements.
This is contrary to the Supreme Court's directions issued in May last year for providing permanent 24-hour shelter for the homeless across the country.
The survey report, gathering data through a structured questionnaire, observations, perusal of registers kept at night shelters and informal discussions with those getting refuge there, was prepared under the guidance of Ashok Khandelwal, advisor to the Supreme Court's Commissioner in the right to food case. It found a lot of discrepancies in the claims made by the State Government and the reality. PUCL State general secretary Kavita Srivastava said since the concept of permanent shelters was yet to find acceptability among the State officials, the minimum facilities were not provided everywhere. “The State Government's guidelines have not been discussed in the public domain and everything is working on an ad hoc basis,” she added.
The Supreme Court observed during its previous hearing in the PUCL case on January 3 that women and children were hardly found in the night shelters in Rajasthan because separate facilities for men and women for sleeping, bathing and toilets had not been provided in most of the shelter homes.
The case will come up for further hearing on Monday.