Railway Land not Suitable for Night Shelters: Delhi High Court

दिल्ली Delhi: The Railway today told the Delhi High Court that its land near stations here is not available to make night shelters for the homeless as the people who will stay there will not die of cold but will be killed when they cross the tracks carelessly.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, however, was of the view that in winter this year “no one in the national capital should die of cold or be found sleeping on road side”.

“We are not concerned with the space and the blankets or the beddings given to the homeless at night. All that we want is that no one sleeps on the road this winter,” the court said while asking DDA, DSIIDC (Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd), MCD, NDMC, Cantonment Board and Land and Development Office to make all kinds of arrangements.

However, on the question raised by the counsel for Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) that railway officials are not co-operating in their project, the northern railway’s counsel said “the space near railway stations cannot be made available for homeless as they cross the railway track carelessly to and fro of which they die”.

The court said “we need not blame each other. Some way has to be found out. Some more additional directions need to be given to the agency involved”.

The authorities and the NGOs are also directed to give suggestion so that it can consider it, the judge added.

The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on January 7, 2015 while asking the civic bodies here to explore all the possibilities and even to consult St Columbus School to make available its basement for the homeless during winter night.

It also asked DUSIB to contact NDMC for allowing the homeless to sleep at their subways.

The court is hearing a case it took up on its own after media reports highlighted the absence of enough and proper night shelters for the homeless in the city.

DUSIB’s response came after the court had on November 19 issued several directions and asked several civic bodies here to inform it whether the underground vehicle parking space can be made available to the homeless for shelter at night.

These directions included holding of meetings of Joint Apex Advisory Committee (JAAC) every fortnight which would be attended by representatives of all departments concerned and NGOs which are working for the benefit of the persons in need of shelter.

The authorities were also directed to devise ways of transporting to and fro the homeless who are unable to use the night shelters for the reason of distance of such shelters from their working sites.

The court had said that Delhi Transport Corporation should cooperate with the Deputy Director, DUSIB.

To the court’s direction, DUSIB in its affidavit filed today, said all night shelters being run by it are currently open for 24 hours and the Lieutenant Governor has also instructed them for providing tea and rusk to the inhabitants in the morning from December 10 onwards.

“Like previous winter season, for the forthcoming winter season as well, an emergency rescue plan has been chalked out which shall be soon made operational. The rescue plan will be operated through ‘Homeless Rescue Centres’ (HRC) who would be assigned with responsibility to rescue the homeless in their respective jurisdiction area by assisting them to shift to nearby hospital or night shelters as per the need,” DUSIB said in its affidavit.

They further said all possible steps shall be taken to ensure that no such persons, who need or wish to actually use night shelters facility, is forced to spend night in the open.

DUSIB has established 184 night shelters spread all over Delhi.