Open House: What steps should be taken to protect the homeless from the biting cold? : The Tribune India

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Open House: What steps should be taken to protect the homeless from the biting cold?

Create night shelters, ensure no life is lost

Open House:   What steps should be taken to protect the homeless from the biting cold?

Shelter homes a haven for homeless

In order to protect homeless people from the biting cold, the foremost step the administration should take is to increase the number of shelter homes. Also, awareness about such shelter homes should be made among needy homeless people. In order to provide further relief to such people, the administration should increase the distribution of warm winter clothes like sweaters, jackets and blankets among them.

Sanjay Chawla

NGOs must come aid to poor people

Homeless people are defined not only by the lack of roof over their head, but also due to the lack of basic human comforts such as warmth, health, safety and food. Nowadays, severe cold weather conditions have made it difficult for homeless people to survive in such harsh weather. So, the administration should provide shelter to all poor people. Moreover, NGOs should also look after the needs of homeless people and provide them warm clothes, blankets, etc, to protect them from this chilly weather. Some healthcare facilities, food, shelter and clothing should be provided to them as soon as possible. The government must take necessary step to save homeless people from the cold weather.


Govt MUST provide them permanent homes

The government should provide permanent shelter to homeless people. It is very cold these days. The state is reeling under severe cold conditions. Despite wearing so many woollens, it is very difficult to bear the biting cold out in the open. Every person wants to stay indoors, but homeless cannot do so. In the severe cold, we can see so many people living out on the streets or by the roadside or outside shops. They have no proper clothes or shoes to save themselves from the onslaught of the severe cold. They take refuge under the bridges of railroads or flyovers. They have no blankets or quilts to cover their bodies. In every winter, homeless people have to live out in the cold. Many of them die due to cold every year. The government should provide permanent shelters, where they can get quilts and blankets. Even washrooms must be attached to these shelters. The state government should provide employment according to education and mental level so they can live like good citizens. The state government can take help from the Centre and NGOs to provide shelter.

Sucha Sagar

State duty-bound to provide roof to all

The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of cold to sever cold waves in northern India, including Punjab cities. The holy city is one of them. Severe cold conditions pose a tough survival challenge for those who do not have a roof over their head and adequate winter clothing. As this winter season seems harsher, the city administration should be prepared to protect homeless people from the cold. There is a dire need for shelter homes for homeless people. Such homes should be equipped with mattresses, blankets, lockers, bathing and toilet facilities. In almost every city in India, homeless people are neglected. There is a Central plan — the National Urban Livelihood Mission-Shelter for Urban Homeless — for providing safe and secure covered space. As per the Supreme Court guidelines, all state governments are legally bound to build dignified permanent shelters for the homeless citizens. But there is not much change on the ground because of the lack of an initiative taken by state and local governments. State and city administrations need to follow the Central policy and state guidelines in letter and spirit. Residents should also come forward and help homeless people in whatever way they can contribute. Sometime back, the SC had admonished a chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh for showing ID-like Aadhaar card to avail the night shelter facility. In this regard, the city shelters in Chandigarh and Guru Amar Das Apahaj Ashram in Ludhiana offer shelters to all who seek a refuge without asking poor people to produce any proof of their identity. In Amritsar’s Golden Temple, daily over one lakh people, mostly homeless people, are served free food any time of the day and no identification is demanded from them. Night shelters must be built as it is the bounden duty of the state government.


Make shelters for homeless

In the past, bonfire was the best way for the homeless to deal with the extreme cold conditions. Municipal Committee officials used to cut the additional branches of trees in the cities or villages and arrange fire at different places where residents used to keep themselves warm around the fire. The temperature has declined in various cities, and at present, it is colder in cities than hilly areas. The temperature has dipped to as low as 2°C in many parts of Rajasthan and Delhi. Snowfall in the hills has further increased the cold wave conditions and the masses are eagerly awaiting rain, which will rein in dry cough and many other diseases. The demand for heaters, geysers, woollens have increased manifold. The homeless people either take shelter under the trees and flyovers or in market corridors to keep them safe from the bitter cold. The government should frame a policy for providing temporary accommodation to such persons. Also, the administration should arrange blankets, gloves, sweaters, and other items for the homeless to help them beat the chill. The social organizations, too, should come forward to help the needy.

Rajat Kumar Mohindru

Donate woollens to help them bear cold

There is no doubt that the whole of north India, including Punjab, is in the grip of intense cold conditions. Bhatinda seems to be coldest in Punjab. Even from the comfort of our homes we can feel that how severe the conditions are outside; we can easily make out what the homeless and the underprivileged must be going through at this moment. Worse was the dismantling the homes of the people living in Latifpura in Jalandhar. They are now living in tents, thanks to Khalsa Aid, an NGO. Every resourceful person should contribute to help the homeless people. An IPS officer was recently seen donating blankets to the homeless people. I too donated some clothes to needy people at a homeless shelter in Kapurthala. We need more such initiatives from each and everyone to help make the lives of the homeless a little better in the bone-chilling cold.

Dr JS Wadhwa

Create task force to save lives

Around the months of December and January, cold wave is a natural phenomenon. However, the life of those having no permanent shelter is adversely hit during inclement climatic conditions. As per the meteorological department, many areas of Punjab will continue to remain in the grip of chilly weather over the next few days. In 2019-20, vagaries of such weather claimed a number of lives, which was ascribed primarily to the lack of planning and inadequate preparedness to help the outdoor workers, farmers and livestock. Ironically, the things are no different even now! The ‘rain baseras’ constructed at some places are neither adequate nor properly maintained. Recently in Karnal, condemned bus-bodies have been used to provide shelter to the homeless and destitute. Sanitation facilities at these sites are so poor that it becomes a breeding place for the spread of many diseases. Despite the cold wave risk management, several people living below poverty line are forced to beg or pick rags for livelihood and spend nights in open. For instant relief, a dedicated task force of officials and volunteers can be engaged to coordinate efforts to keep people safe from the severe cold wave. While religious bodies managing gurdwaras and dharamshalas have always been of big help to provide food and shelter, NGOs and philanthropists might be prompted for financial help of the needy and donate items like warm wearables, blankets, quilts, etc. After all, no service is above saving lives during unsavoury conditions!

Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath

Admn must show genuine concern

The administration should formulate a programme like ‘sardi mein sehyogi’, wherein area councillors, NGOs and citizens work in solidarity for providing protection to the homeless and the destitute from the biting cold. The ‘Wall of Kindness’ concept must be implemented at the earliest with the councillors identifying the prime locations in their respective wards and designating them as perennial places for donating the essentials of life like books, clothes for those deprived of them. The public must also enthusiastically participate in this movement by assisting the NGOs and the administration in the collection and distribution of resources and promotion of this benevolent idea. Warm blankets, quilts, shawls and other woollens must be distributed among the needy at the roundabouts, railway stations, bus stands, markets, religious places and at the other focal points of the city. Shelter homes must be inspected to ascertain whether they are functional and well-equipped with all requisite facilities. Genuine concerns and services of the administration would build a belief that there still subsists a ‘Good Samaritan’ government, ready to treat the poor with the same warmth as those with wealth!

Anshika Kohli

Arrange shelters, launch helpline

Homelessness is a challenging social stigma, but during harsh winter conditions, it becomes a humanitarian issue also. It is observed that many NGOs, charitable and religious entities and even individuals occasionally come forward to help the homeless and destitute through randomly providing woollen clothes and food to them. However, the basic problem of shelter still haunts them and spending nights during freezing cold is a nightmarish experience. For this purpose, the administration needs to come forward and arrange cluster of temporary shelters to accommodate such people. Further, a city nodal officer be appointed to coordinate and organise systematically all activities of other private agencies regarding food, clothes and other materials. Besides, a toll free number be arranged for the information to the general public to become a part of such efforts and to the homeless willing to avail of such services.

Jagdish Chander

Spare a thought for the vulnerable

Winter is getting harsher every year across the country. While we shiver inside our houses despite having adequate arrangements, one cannot fathom the plight of the homeless and the underprivileged in such conditions. Unfortunately, it is the most difficult, disturbing and depressing time of the year for the deprived sections of society. We should spare a thought for these vulnerable people who are out on the streets without food, clothes, shelter and medicines, and find it very difficult to get through the extremely cold days of the year. It is the responsibility of residents, NGOs, social and religious organisation to do their bit to help them. The government, in particular, should understand their needs and requirements and make special arrangements for their well-being. The district administration should launch a special awareness campaign in society, highlighting the problems of the unfortunate and God-forsaken individuals. It should connect with charity organisations and community centres and launch a fund-raising campaign to provide them adequate monetary help. It should conduct drives in educational institutions, offices and other public places to collect warm clothes, food and other requisite items for the downtrodden so that they can face the wintry days with ease.

Tajpreet S Kang

Citizens, govt should extend help to poor

Winter poses a great challenge for the poor and needy across India. While the rich spend the season bundled up in warm clothes, those poor and vulnerable people don’t even have basic facilities. They do not have warm clothes to wear, enough food to eat and shelters to stay at. As responsible citizens, it is our moral duty to take care of them. We should donate woollen clothes like blankets, sweaters, socks and shoes, jackets, coats and quilts, give food, grocery and other eatables, hot drinks like tea and coffee to these unprivileged persons so they do not have to go to bed on an empty stomach. We should connect with NGOs and the district administration to raise funds. The government has set up ‘Neki ki Dewaar’ to collect warm clothes for these people who cannot afford the bare necessities of life. The government should also provide them work to make both ends meet and live a life of dignity. It should also arrange free health camps for them.

DS Kang


PCS officers recently went on a mass leave to protest against some grievances they had against the government. In view of the inconvenience faced by the public, the CM issued a warning to them, which made the officers end the stir and resume their duties. Do you feel that the strike by the PCS officers was justified?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent [email protected] by Thursday (January 19)

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