In a bid to help homeless persons hit by the pandemic, housing rights activists have complied a list of shelters in Mumbai.
Ghar Bachao-Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has compiled a list of 22 existing shelters within the city, along with the procedure to follow to gain access to the shelter. “Maharashtra is one of the worst performing States in terms of setting up such shelters. No shelter in Mumbai is set up following the National Urban Livelihoods Mission [NULM] guidelines. The procedure to provide shelter is tedious. Therefore, we have compiled our experiences and put it out for all those who wish to take tips from it,” Bilal Khan, an activist with GBGBA, said.
According to the 2011 Census, Mumbai had over 57,000 homeless persons, a number that has increased over the years. “The pandemic has resulted in financial losses for many families and has disrupted their livelihoods. These two years have put a strain on the marginalised sections and, therefore, the number is likely to have increased. It is important that attention is given to these shelters,” he said.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has put out a helpline number (1800-22-1292), which would be active between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the lockdown period, he said. Homeless persons, stranded labourers and others in distress could seek food packets, grocery packets and temporary shelter.
An individual should inform the local police station in order to help a homeless person gain access to a shelter. “The police may urge them to send the person to a beggars’ home. But we have to insist on the completion of the identification process and inform NGOs and shelter homes associated with the rescue of the homeless,” Mr. Khan said, adding that detailed tips would be available on the GBGBA website.
In November 2020, GBGBA, along with the Habitat and Livelihood Welfare Association (HALWA) and Pehchan, had filed a case in the State Human Rights Commission to hold the BMC accountable for not constructing adequate number of shelters and adhering to NULM guidelines. It had also sought the creation of a separate department that could serve as a one-stop centre to deal with homeless persons, which could assist them with admission to shelters, conduct necessary medical tests and help them gain access to social welfare schemes.