Counting the Homeless in Delhi

As per a study titled ‘Homeless Survey-2010’ undertaken by UNDP, the official estimate of number of homeless people living without any shade or shelter in Delhi stands at 55,955. Unique Identification Authority of India has also accepted the survey for giving Aadhar numbers to the homeless.

Based on this report, Govt. plans to formulate its policies for providing shelter and possibly skills to such persons for earning their livelihood. So far govt facilities cover only 12,000 homeless people. Further, the condition of these shelters was not good too, as they had been very susceptible to incidents of fire. Moreover they are overcrowded and have very bad living conditions.

However several NGOs have disputed the figures put out by the study. They say the study was undertaken during 2010, when a large number of homeless were driven out of the city on account of Common Wealth Games. For example, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, which runs a number of homeless shelters in the city and IGSSS, state that the study has not covered many lanes and bylanes, where a number of such persons can be found. IGSSS had undertaken a survey in 2008 and they counted more than 88,000 people. They also insist that for every person counted they would have missed one person, as they could not go to all the bye-lanes of the city. They insist in all probability the Homeless in Delhi would be in the region of 150,000. Their argument seems to have some logic, that it is not possible for any agency to undertake a 100% headcount of population in such a large and diversified city.

In a recent order Supreme Court has directed all the states, particularly the northern states, which have extreme weather conditions to take action on priority basis in creating Night Shelters for such persons. Quoting Article 21 which dels with fundamental right of life and liberty, SC stated that ‘right to shelter’ is also covered by Right to Life and that it is the duty of the Govt ‘to preserve and protect’ the lives of homeless and destitute. It asked that Delhi Govt should provide at least around 160 night shelters.

This entry was posted in Urban Governance. Bookmark the permalink.