200 choultries and marriage halls to house the homeless

Some homeless people in Bengaluru have been accommodated at a shelter set up by the India Community Development Service Society in view of the lockdown.   | Photo Credit: SampathKumarGP

Vishwanath from Gouribidanur has been living in the homeless shelter at Upparpete for nearly two months. Over the past week, however, the already cramped shelter has been stretched to accommodate homeless people, migrant workers without jobs and those who are stranded in the city, like Babul Sheikh and his brother Abid Sheikh from Bihar.

The 10 homeless shelters of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are bursting at the seams. To accommodate more people, a tarpaulin tent has been pitched in the open area next to the shelter on Goodshed Road.

BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said, “We have identified over 200 choultries and marriage halls across the city where temporary shelters for the homeless could be set up. The labour department is monitoring the situation, and temporary shelters would be set up on a need basis.”

According to S.S. Rajani, who has worked with the homeless, the overcrowding in shelters is dangerous. “Health officials talk about social distancing to check the spread of COVID-19. But with shelters overcrowded, this is just not possible,” she said.

In December 2018, the BBMP, with assistance from Impact India, a non-governmental organisation, undertook a survey of homeless persons in the eight zones. In the three core zones, nearly 4,000 homeless persons were found.

This number, which has risen over the years, did not include families living by the side of roads in small tarpaulin tents. For instance, around 30 families have been selling pottery on the street between ITI Gate and K.R. Puram government hospital for decades now. They live in tents by the road and have been bearing the brunt of the lockdown.

“The last time we ate was Monday afternoon. We are waiting for someone to give us food trusting God will send us food. The children have not been fed. There is no milk,” said Angoori Bayi, a labourer from Rajasthan.

Several social welfare organisations and NGOs have come together to help out. Anand Murthy, who manages the BBMP’s shelter in Upparpete, said that the civic body has been providing food packets to residents. “A few NGOs have donated biscuit packets, bottled water, coffee and fruits,” he said.

Circular from BBMP

In an attempt to stop daily wage workers from leaving the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has directed all companies and contractors working on BBMP projects to provide free groceries, food and shelter to the labourers, and ask them not to leave the city. “If the directive is not followed, legal action shall be taken against the contractors or companies,” the circular reads.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 17, 2021 9:24:00 AM |

Next Story