CHENNAI: Be it the regular road-laying works or a new construction on Gandhi Irwin Road, no one would know about it better than Valarmathi. Twenty years of stay right on the road have made her the most informed person among her neighbours, who live a few yards from the platform where she stays.
With a meagre earning out of ‘out coolie’ jobs of her husband in Egmore Railway Station, even daily survival is an endless battle for her.
“We are living under this street-light ever since I got married . Vehicle smoke, heavy rains and scorching sun are all part of our life,” says Valarmathi. Scores of homeless like them came together and watched in amazement as ‘Breaking the silence,’ an initiative for homeless community was launched on Tuesday.
Indian Community Welfare Organisation (ICWO), with support from the Union Government, Ministry of External Affairs, Department for International Development and Actionaid India, launched the project to sensitise people living on streets to fight for their rights and lobby with the government to provide shelter for the homeless.
“They are even deprived of basic rights like shelter, employment, health care and education. It is important that the people know their rights and fight for them,” said Actionaid trustee of UK Board Mike Forrest. ICWO founder-secretary A.J.Hariharan said that homeless population in India has crossed 40 lakhs and Chennai alone has 40,000 people deprived of shelter.