Citing various reasons, prefer to stay put in front of shops in this chilly weather
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 24
Forty-five-year-old rickshaw puller Tyomadi, who has been putting up in a corridor in front of shops in Sector 30 for the past 20 years, finds it more convenient to stay here rather than going to a night shelter in this chilly weather.
The UT Social Welfare Department has set up night shelters, where the poor can stay for free, at various locations in the city.
During a survey conducted by Chandigarh Tribune to look into the status of the poor residing on the roadside in this cold weather, Tyomadi was found staying in the market area along with his five friends.
“This is my home and I cannot leave it just to avail myself of a better facility,” said the rickshaw puller.
Another person, Inder Dev Shukla, who was busy preparing dinner for his friends, said that for the past 15 years the 15ft-by-15ft stretch of corridor in front of a doctor’s clinic was their home. He said the rickshaw pullers were forced to stay there as there was no facility to park their vehicles at the night shelters.
Surinder Tripathi, an auto-rickshaw driver, had a totally different reason to stay away from the comforts of a night shelter. Such facilities made the labour class lazy and lethargic, he said.
“I usually wake up at 4 am and leave for work by 7 am. When I shifted to a night shelter, I started getting up at 8 am and got late for work. This affected my income,” said Tripathi.
Harbilas Mishra, who stays in a corridor in the Sector 18 market, said he felt offended when he came to know that the UT Administration planned to shift him to a temporary arrangement made for winters.
“It becomes difficult to find another secure place to stay once the authorities discontinue the free service,” he said, adding that instead the administration should provide blankets and bedding to them.
Another reason that makes these people stay away from the night shelters became evident on visiting the markets at Sectors 17, 18, 19, 20, 22 and 30 during late hours. Most of the poor residing in the corridors were seen consuming liquor, which is not allowed at night shelters.
Another incentive to stay put in the corridors is that shopkeepers engage these rickshaw pullers for work such as loading and transporting their stock. The traders also give them some money to guard their property at night. These extra sources of income are important for the poor.
Director, Social Welfare Department, Tilak Raj said that the previous year as many as 5,300 people residing on the roadside availed themselves of the free facility. After analysing these numbers, the department decided to set up these shelters once again. He said 17 teams had been constituted to motivate these underprivileged people to shift to the night shelters to avoid health-related problems.
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