How poor, homeless are surviving the bitter winter in Delhi
New Delhi, Dec 15: It's not just the political climate that has turned bitter and frosty in the country in the wake of the Gujarat Assembly elections in the recent times.
The winter has set in and weather conditions have become really cold and unbearable in most parts of the country. The national capital, the political hub of the country, is no different as everyone can be seen covered in their woolies to fight the cold.
However, there are many who are not that fortunate to have woolen garments and heaters to keep themselves warm in these difficult times.
It's the homeless of Delhi who fight a lonely battle to survive the harsh weather conditions, every winter. Every year, several poor and homeless in Delhi die during winters. Do we care enough? Or is it too routine a phenomenon for the "privileged" to think about?
On Friday morning, news reports stated that cold wave has gripped the national capital and early morning pictures indicated foggy conditions in the city leading to delay and rescheduling of train services.
"#Coldwave grips #Delhi, fog also seen in parts of the national capital; 25 trains delayed, two rescheduled and 12 cancelled: Visuals from #Rajpath area," tweeted ANI.
To survive the bitter cold, poor and homeless are stated to be taking refuge in night shelters in various parts of the capital city. There are again many homeless who don't like to stay in night shelters because of lack of space and infrastructural facilities. They spend their nights under the cold winter sky of Delhi. Several people also light up small bonfires in open areas of Delhi to keep themselves warm.
"People take refuge at night shelters in #Delhi as cold wave intensifies in the region, light fire to warm themselves," tweeted ANI.
According to a survey done by the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) in 2014, the national capital has around 16,000 homeless people. The activists, working for the homeless in Delhi, refuse to believe the official figures.
They state that a proper headcount of homeless in Delhi would definitely show that the figures are as high as one lakh or more.
According to a report by Hindustan Times, the DUSIB's winter action plan 2017-18 for night shelters was rolled out on November 15.
"Records with the DUSIB suggest as of now, they have been able to set up 183 night shelters across the city. Out of this, 73 are permanent buildings, 109 are porta-cabin shelters and one has been set up in a tent. Together, all of these can accommodate 15,774 people," an official was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Janaki Kumar, who works as a labourer in the national capital, said that he has been "homeless" for the last two years.
"Earlier, I used to stay in a rented shack. Since I can't afford it, I have started sleeping on the road since the last two years. Winter is the worst part of the year. Sometime I do go and sleep in a night shelter.
"Otherwise I sleep under a tree. Night shelters are not often friendly and it is difficult to get space," said Kumar, who has left his home in Patna, Bihar to work in Delhi.