Wednesday, October 6, 2010

State government refuses to build affordable shelters for homeless workers, calls them beggars

Press Release

State government refuses to build affordable shelters for homeless workers, calls them beggars

Date- 4th October 2010
Time- 3:00 to 4:00 pm.
Venue - Press Club Mumbai

Today, the 4th of October is World Habitat day. The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. This year, the focus issues are health and housing.
The state of Maharashtra is one of the better of states with high per capita incomes and has been a very progressive state in its socio-economic policies. It is often said with pride that no one goes to sleep hungry in this city- a sign of its inclusive character. However it does not seem to be any more beginning with the government itself as reflected by the government’s non-compliance in its affidavit on implementing the Supreme Court directive about homeless.

On this world habitat day it is time to reflect on what the state government is doing about shelters for its citizens. The affidavit filed by the state in the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter says a lot about the intent of the government. The court had asked all the state governments to state what they are doing for the homeless and had given some directives to be followed as well. It had asked governments to create one shelter for every one lac population in cities having population of more than 5 lacs with basic facilities, which the State of Maharashtra has refused to follow.

In its affidavit while the state has acknowledged that homeless are the poorest of the poor of the city and cannot even afford informal housing. Still the state government has mixed slum dwellers with homeless and sighted schemes of slum dwellers as meant for homeless. This, in a way appears to be an attempt to mislead the court and in effect refusal to build shelters for homeless as directed by the hon’ble court.

The majority of homeless constitute working people of the city, working as daily wage workers in catering industry, pushing carts, construction, putting up banners and posters, rag pickers etc. But due to extremely low incomes cannot afford the housing meant for slum dwellers and those meant for rehabilitation of slum dwellers. They need amenities customized according to their situation which obviously the government is unaware else they would not have been clubbed with beggars.

Most often it is incorrectly being presumed that these shelters will be free. Since majority of the homeless work these would be paid for but on a “daily pay and use” basis something akin to dormitories. Delhi’s shelters are a good example of such shelters. At the same time there a lot of old, destitute, disabled, and mentally ill and children who need free shelters plus additional care as part of social security scheme for them. Since this group amongst the homeless is not in a position to take care of themselves in the absence of social security from the state. Thus, the government will be able to provide much needed social security to the group.

The affidavit is an insult and an affront to the dignity of the hardworking homeless citizens and of the poor to be clubbed as beggars. It goes against the fundamental right of right to life with dignity and liberty and freedom of movement and resides anywhere in the country. Beggars’ homes are not open shelters but custodial institutions where you can go only after being arrested by the police. It denies all freedoms and opportunity to go out and work. The homeless cannot access these homes neither should they be put in the beggars homes.

The homeless people of the State and NGOs in solidarity condemn the affidavit of the Maharashtra government.

We will protest against it tomorrow 5th October in Azad Maidan and demand from the state to:

v Immediately start implementing the directives of the Supreme Court dated 5th May 2010.
v Build a Shelter for every 1 lakh population in cities with population above 5 lakhs.
v State wide assessment of the homeless population
v Adequate accommodation / housing should be created on daily rental, affordable by the homeless. Delhi’s shelters are a good example of such shelters.
v Age, sex and ability (for instance disabled, mentally challenged, destitute women, children) should be taken into consideration while sanctioning and designing shelters

Participants Organizations-

Saathi, Committee for the right to housing(CRH), CYDA (Pune), Disha Foundation ( Nashik), Beghar Yuva Sanghatan,Yuva, Aajeevika bureau (Udaipur), Alternative realities, Anmol,Don Bosco Rehabilitation and research Centre,Jyot Bahu Uddeshiy samajik sanstha,Koshish,Prayas,Rks (Ration Kruti samiti),Tarai Foundation,Vidharthi Bharati, Build,Nirman, JJM,Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, ICHRL. Nagri Hakka Samiti, Awami Bharat,Bharat Bachav Andolan,Democratic Vidharti Kranti Dal, Marathi Bharati,INSAF,Nagpur Muncipal Co-orporation Employes Union.

Organized by-
Maharashtra State Committee for National City Maker Caravan and
Collective for homeless citizens Mumbai.

Contact Person :
Shwetank Mishra- 9819264009 Arif Kapadia- 9224412022

Address -SAATHI, Agripada Muncipal School ,Farukh umerbhoy path, Opp. YMCA Swimming Pool,Mumbai - 400011. Office No- 23009117. Email –

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