Although the monsoon is set to hit the metropolis soon, the Maharashtra government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai have not constructed any shelters for the homeless in Mumbai as mandated by the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), activist Medha Patkar has revealed. Ms. Patkar leads the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA).
The guidelines by NULM under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, mandate construction of a permanent community shelter for every one lakh population by the government.
Bilal Khan of GBGBA, said: “Mumbai has a population of 12,442,373 as per 2011 Census and as per the guidelines, at least 124 community shelters were required to be constructed.
“But, my RTI query revealed that no new night shelters have been build as per the NULM guidelines.”
In its reply to Mr. Khan’s RTI query on June 1, the Public Information officer & Research Officer (Planning) of the MCGM said: “No night shelter has been constructed by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.” Seven night shelters built before the NULM guidelines exist at Khetwadi, Kamathipura, Wankhede Stadium footover bridge, Bandra, Andheri East, and Malad East, which support 333 people presently.
Flouting court order
Mr. Khan said, “The Supreme Court of India and various High Courts have on several occasions clarified that the ‘right to shelter’ is part and parcel of ‘right to life’. This means that denying shelter to anyone is a clear violation of ‘right to life’. The Supreme Court, in its rulings, has made it mandatory for state governments to construct shelter for the homeless.”
The GBGBA also released an affidavit filed by Sailesh Jogiani, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, which reveals that the Centre had allocated Rs. 15,272.72 lakh to Maharashtra for construction of permanent shelters, but the State has not spent any of it.
“It is startling to know that not a single rupee has been spent so far by the Maharashtra Government. We urge the government as well as the MCGM to look into the matter with utmost urgency, and provide all the possible relief to the homeless living in Mumbai keeping in mind the possible risk to life during rains,” Mr. Khan said. The GBGBA is scheduled to file an affidavit before the Supreme Court related to this in August when the matter comes up for hearing, he said.
The Maharashtra government has not spent any of the allocated money for building shelters