No New Year Cheer for the Homeless in Delhi

No New Year Cheer for the Homeless in Delhi

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There are about 1,50,000 people without a roof over their heads in Delhi.

New Delhi:  For many like Anjum, curled up under a tattered tarpaulin with her three-month-old daughter on a chilly night on the footpath of Delhi, New Year brings no cheer but only misery. NDTV met a group of homeless people outside Delhi's Inter State Bus Terminus in Kashmere Gate on New Year's Eve. As most Delhiites ushered in New Year inside the four walls of clubs and parties, Shahri Adhikar Manch on the other hand, organised a meeting on New Year's Eve, with these porters who live on the capital's pavements.

This group of homeless people sang songs of struggle and protests as they welcomed 2015. They are fighting for their right to seek shelter in government owned night shelters.  

"The idea of celebrating New Year with the homeless was to affirm that people here need shelters to live in and send across a message that there are people in Delhi who are concerned about the homeless", Indu Prakash Singh, Executive Committee Member, Shahri Adhikar Manch, explained to NDTV the idea behind this unusual New Year celebration.

168 people have been allotted a dingy restroom outside the bus terminus which can accommodate no more than 25 people. They have no access to adjacent restrooms which they claim are meant for them, but remain locked.

Laxmi Narayan Bagdi, a porter at this bus terminal who has seen many new years on this footpath as a homeless said this year is no different. "For us it will be a celebration when we get a job or our children do well. For us this night is as ordinary as any other night," she said.

For homeless people like these, a pavement of the capital is home and New Year's Eve is far from festive. There are about a lakh and fifty thousand people without a roof over their heads in Delhi alone. Social workers say there is a huge deficit in the number of night shelters in Delhi. They claim only a meager 12 per cent of shelter space for the homeless has been used by the government which hints at the gravity of the problem.

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