Ludhiana, December 5
Though the Municipal Corporation (MC) asserted that night shelters for homeless persons at three locations were opened, existing arrangements seemed to be inadequate. The presence of unwashed blankets and bedsheets, many of which are considered years’ old, serves as a stark portrayal of the actual conditions at these shelters. Moreover, the bus service intended to transport homeless persons from various locations to the night shelters is yet to commence, resulting in a limited number of people reaching there.
At MC’s night shelter near Cheema Chowk in Zone B, there are many ‘uncleaned’ bedding. The existing blankets, reportedly up to seven-year-old, have never been washed despite handled by multiple users. There is currently no provision for washing the old bedsheets, pillow covers and blankets. According to information, adequate number of new blankets and bedsheets has not been provided this time. Moreover, big cracks in the toilet section remain unrepaired at the night shelter near Cheema Chowk.
It has been a routine situation at the night shelters for years that after being used by one person, the bedsheets, blankets, and other bedding items were subsequently given to another person. An MC employee said: “There have also been instances where a number of persons under the influence of alcohol visited the shelters. Some of them had urinated and stained the bedding.”
The MC’s night shelter near Vishwakarma Chowk in Zone C lacks new blankets or bedsheets this time. An employee claimed that new blankets were provided last year, which were taken away by some visitors.
At another MC’s shelter at Dairy Complex, Haibowal, in Zone D, the ongoing whitewash work is yet to be completed. Old and stained blankets and bedsheets, never washed, are still in use at the shelter, with uncertainty about when new ones will be available.
“Washing or cleaning bedsheets or blankets, especially following their use by someone who is sick, helps in eradicating germs and lessens the likelihood of transmission of diseases. Hence, the MC should ensure the availability of cleaned or washed blankets and other bedding items for the visitors,” said a resident, Gaganpreet Singh.
At present, a significant number of homeless persons sleep in the open on footpaths at different locations in the city. The MC has not established any alternative night shelter near Clock Tower or railway station to replace the unsafe one that was shut down last year.
MC’s Joint Commissioner Kulpreet Singh said he would look into the matter.
He said the bus service to transport homeless persons to night shelters would be provided in coming days.
On Monday night, about seven persons visited the MC’s night shelter near Cheema Chowk in Zone B and six reached the MC’s night shelter near Vishwakrma Chowk in Zone C. However, nobody came to the shelter at Dairy Complex Haibowal in Zone D. All these shelters are situated at a distance from prominent areas where a significant number of homeless individuals stay on footpaths. It is expected that there will be an increased turnout once the bus service commences.
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