Tribune News Service
While officials of the Bathinda Administration were sleeping in their cosy rooms, a large number of homeless persons, including children, continue to shiver in the biting cold in the city as the Municipal Corporation has built a shelter home, but has not taken any initiative to shift them there.
Winters are here and the temperature will register a further dip in the days to come.
Taking cognisance of the fact that homeless and destitute are badly hit in the cold weather, the Supreme Court (SC) had issued letters to state governments to make sure that the homeless and the destitute are taken care of and had directed the governments to create night shelters for them to save them from the chill.
The night shelter located on Mall Godam Road was recently renovated by the corporation and handed over to a non-government organisation to run it. Ironically, the vacant piece of land outside the office of the Municipal Corporation is fully occupied by homeless people during night while a few metres away, the night shelter have only one or two occupants.
It has also been witnessed that night shelters of the Municipal Corporation are not in compliance with the Supreme Court instructions. As per the SC instructions, there should be beds and beddings for people staying at these homes, but it lacks beds.
Vijay Goyal, president of Sahara Jan Sewa, an NGO which is running the night shelter, said: “We are working hard for the cause. We are fed up with these people as they prefer to sleep in the open as a large number of residents of the city visits them during night hours and donate quilt and other material to them, which they further sell to shopkeepers. They feel that if they sleep at the shelter home, they will not be able to get these things in donation.”
He said: “We have put up boards at the Bathinda railway junction and many other places in the city as well to make all aware that night shelters are available for those who have no place to spend the night. These shelters are not only for the destitute and the homeless but also for those who have to catch trains or buses during odd hours and have to wait for long for the same.”
He added that most of the homeless people in the city were drunkards and if they would stay at the shelter home, they could not consume liquor there.
Mayor Balwant Rai Nath said the Municipal Corporation Bathinda was doing everything possible to make sure that enough space was made available for the homeless to spend their nights at the shelter home.
He said the shelters had been renovated to make them appealing to even those who visit the city to catch connecting trains from Bathinda Junction during odd hours.
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