Text of covering letter dated 08/09/03 on letterhead of Joint Apex Committee
We thank you for your participation in the consultation on space for the homeless and marginalised in Delhi on 25th July 2003. Enclosed please find a detailed report on the consultation and some specific recommendations based on the deliberations during the said consultation. We hope to carry forward this development in creating space for shelters, facilities and programs for the homeless, with your active participation and cooperation. Some of the concerned government agencies are now willing to implement the existing provisions in their policies and schemes. The Delhi Govt., Department of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, HUDCO, municipal bodies (MCD and NDMC), Delhi Development Authority, along with the NGOs and others have shown due considerations for the homeless and marginalised. Based o our previous presentation and the recommendations made now the DDA also is willing to give space and create faciltiies for the shelters in the Master Plan of Delhi and on the ground.
The Joint Apex Committee would again make an attempt this year to create more shelters during the winter for at least 10,000 homeless, in addition to the existing space. We surely need support from the government, civil society, NGOs, corporate and concerned citizens in making this attempt a reality.
With best wishes,
Amod K Kanth
Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan and Delhi4Change (projects of Action Aid India) have been working in Delhi to create shelter and facilities for the homeless. As a result of a PIL filed by AAA in the High Court of Delhi, a ‘Joint Apex Committee for the improvement of night shelters and facilities for street children’ was constituted by the Slum & Resettlement Wing, MCD. This Committee has since been patronized by the Chief Minister of Delhi and recognized by the Govt. of NCT Delhi to provide shelters and other facilities for the homeless in Delhi.
This body made significant contributions by creating shelters for nearly 4000 homeless during the last winter. 22 temporary shelters were created in addition to 12 regular Raen Baseras (Night Shelters) run by MCD. This Govt.-NGOs-Corporate partnership has developed a model of shelters, facilities and capacity building activities in which the partners are now sharing resources and expertise. Subsequently, 2 Raen Baseras has been transferred to Joint Management mode with the Slum & Resettlement Wing, MCD and another NGO. 5 Community Centres are being utilized as shelters, accommodating about 500 people. The Directorate of Education has also joined hands to permit 4 Delhi Govt. schools to be used as night shelters for the homeless after normal school hours. Porta-cabin shelters are proposed to be constructed on 2 open spaces provided by the Slum & Resettlement Wing, MCD. Following the winter, the Joint Apex Committee is now supervising the management of these 11 shelters.
These shelters and facilities are grossly inadequate considering the fact that over 1 lakh homeless are estimated to be on the streets of Delhi. Targeted interventions at the policy, planning and implementation levels have been proposed involving all the important stakeholders, namely the Govt., urban local bodies, land owning authorities, besides the voluntary, charitable and corporate bodies. This consultation on ‘Space for the homeless and marginalised in Delhi’ was organized to provide a platform for planners, officials, NGO functionaries, media, academicians, and others including some homeless men. women and children who could come together to discuss and recommend concrete ways and means to directly address the problems of the homeless and marginalised in Delhi.
The urban situation looks awful and it becomes all the more grave with endless bodies of men, women and children seen lying everywhere, covered under strange but typical rags, particularly in an affluent metropolitan city like Delhi. Such people without shelters are mostly found in commercial areas and congested localities, on the streets and pavements, under the bridges, open spaces like parks, shops, temples, etc, even on the rickshaw and carts. They are mostly visible in nights since during the daytime these places become unsuitable for stay and these people mostly go out to earn their livelihood. Whereas a good number of them are residents of Delhi, majority are pulled, migrating to Delhi due to opportunities, or pushed from the rural poverty and in many cases due to natural calamities.
By any estimate over 1 lakh people are homeless in Delhi alone. Estimation of homeless population becomes difficult in the absence of any fixed abode (sans domicile fixe). According to the 1981 census, there were about 75,000 houseless households in 12 select metros in India. That means, 3,75,000 persons were “without a roof over their heads” and languishing on the city streets. This problem was more acute in the three metros, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi, which put together were reported to have 78% of the houseless population. 20,07,489 houseless persons in a grossly under enumerated census 1991, with urban houseless as 7,25,592. However, 2001 census appears to have taken a realistic view by counting 13.5 million ‘household shortages’, each household having six members, the total houseless population being estimated at 7.8 crores in the country. The entire issue of homelessness or shelterlessness has to be viewed and tackled in this perspective.
In June 2000, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan (a program of ActionAid India Society) counted 52,765 homeless people, in certain areas of Delhi alone. Another NGO, Lokayan’s study on the rickshaw pullers indicated that 22% of the 4 lakh rickshaw pullers in Delhi are homeless. Even DDA admits that at least 1% of the population is homeless, i.e. 1.4 lakh at present”.
Our experience during the past three years in general and the last year focused on shelters and facilities suggests that multiple-partnership is the only solutions to this mammoth
problem. The role of government is of paramount importance and a Govt.-NGO-Corporate partnership could be the best model. A network of NGOs is now managing these shelters under the aegis of the Joint Apex Committee, for which buildings and requisite infrastructure have been provided by the Govt., with support from local communities and the corporate who are prepared to help. Incidentally, this model of the infrastructure support to be provided by the Govt. and the municipal bodies, and the projects run by the voluntary organizations is almost identical to the revised ‘scheme for shelter and sanitation for the footpath dwellers’ and guidelines being formulated by the Department of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, the Govt. of India.
The broad objectives and expected outcomes of this consultation were:
- To define the status and problems of the homeless, shelterless, destitutes and street children in Delhi in the context of urban marginalized groups.
- To identify, examine and present the implementation status of various policies, schemes and programs for such people in Delhi.
- To recommend a pragmatic policy, modifications in the Master Plan of Delhi along with a Plan of Action to create more shelters, facilities and rehabilitative programs for the identified target group in the larger frame of a caring city and inclusive governance.
- To evolve a suitable strategy in consultation with the concerned governmental, non-governmental organizations, local urban bodies, public and private institutions.
Ms.Paramjeet Kaur, Director of Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan welcomed the participants. She then gave a brief introduction of Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan (AAA) and explained how it came into existence. In March 2000, following a consultation meeting in the Planning Commission in 1999, AAA started working on the issue of urban homelessness. In the beginning a survey was conducted to identify and understand the problems faced by the homeless people in Delhi. During the work AAA faced many problems and then evolved a program with the homeless support. It was a two way process by which AAA learnt and homeless also benefited. Problems of shelter or roof overhead, health problems, police beatings, etc. were identified. Now all the partners are working along with Govt. and other agencies, schools, colleges and other institutions. The stakeholders are being jointly sensitized by AAA and Delhi4Change.
Then Md.Zaved Nafis Rehman of AAA narrated the situation of the homeless in Delhi with the help pf a picture slide presentation, showing different aspects of homelessness. There were pictures of homeless children, women, old age, and mentally ill people due to stress. Meena Bazar Shelter run by the Slum & Resettlement Wing, MCD was demolished, after that homeless were sleeping outside.
Then some of the homeless narrated their life stories as how they were living o the street and how shelters run by the coluntary organizations have helped them. Gopalji, now
staying in the Ashray Griha Jhandewalan for the past 6 months and working said that the people who have made buildings are not allowed to stay in them. The shelters created during the last winter were very helpful and saved many lives. When he had a few rupees, he used to think whether to eat or to take shelter ticket. Post Box arrangement, identity cards by AAA are very useful. Homeless have now identity and they are safe from police atrocities. He usually worked late night and the policemen interrogated him. Other facilities like library, computer classes are also very useful. Gopalji requested to the Govt. to provide ration cards and voter cards to the homeless people.
Ms Rashmi Singh, Director, Welfare, NDMC said that primary work of NDMC is to provide electricity, water, health, etc. Apart from this, other discretionary activities are welfare related schemes, old age homes, working women home/hostels. If pressure is put on the Govt. from civil society, to work for the welfare, shelter home, NDMC is willing to do. The Govt. has resources and together with the NGO, they can develop some other projects like Palika Ashray Griha, a model shelter home for 300 women and children which is a joint collaboration with NDMC, Prayas, Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee and Jan Sikshan Sansthan. NGO’s experience will also be taken into consideration.
A homeless child Ghulam Ahmad, now staying at Nabi Karim Community Centre Shelter narrated his story from home to homelessness in Delhi. He left home when his parents died. He reached Delhi and saw children staying at the railway station and bus stand. One of the children who was addicted to drugs told him t use drugs. Now he is getting food, clothes, education, etc. in the Nabi Karim shelter, run in collaboration with AAA, Prayas & MCD. Ghulam asked the participants to create more such shelters for the children staying on the street.
A homeless woman Geeta who belongs to Nepal, said that she came to Delhi for job but could not get any. She stayed at New Delhi Railway Station. She was staying on the street before coming to the shelter. Here she can live with dignity. In this shelter there are many women who have got the shelter but more such shelters are required for women.
Mr Amod Kanth, Vice-chairperson of the Joint Apex Committee said there are needs to modify the Master Plan of Delhi with the provisions for exclusive space for the homeless and marginalized. There is also need to evolve a pragmatic policy, a Plan of Action to create more shelters, facilities and rehabilitative programs for the homeless and marginalised people in Delhi. He also pointed out that this problem is not only in Delhi, but 7.8 crores (13 million families) are houseless, according to the Census of India 2001. Most of the homeless people are working in unorganized sector and treating them as unwanted and legal prosecution of the poor people is undesirable. He said that Action Aid India along with its projects Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan and Delhi4Change who are working with the homeless are committed to create shelter for homeless. MCD was running 19 night shelters but it is now reduced to 12, accommodating just about 1000 people whereas the number of homeless is estimated about 1,50,000. During the last winter, many temporary shelters were created.
He said that the entire issue of homelessness has to be viewed and tackled in the perspective that out of 285 million urban Indians, 100 million are in slums & destitution. India has 127 HDI ranking, out of 175 countries (2003) and there are about 26 crores people BPL, 45 crores spent less than 50/day. International commitments like Vancouver Declaration, 1976, Habitat Agenda, 1996 and Istanbul Declaration, UN, Right to Adequate Housing, and Secure Tenure to which India is a party has to be honoured. Even the national policy and planning documents have reiterated the pro-poor commitments as mentioned in the National Housing and Habitat Policy, 1998, Draft National Slum Policy, 1999, Slum Areas (Improvement & Clearance) Act, 1956, Slum & JJ Areas (Basic amenities and Clearance) Bill, 2002, DDA Act, 1957 and Delhi Master Plan 1990, and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000 providing homes for Children in Need of Care & Protection.
Mr N K Agarwal, Addnl. Commissioner, Planning-II, Delhi Development Authority informed in the consultation that 800 sq.meter land has been provided for shelters in the Master Plan for Delhi for such homeless and marginalised people. He said that this consultation is very important because DDA is formulating the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 at present, and they would surely incorporate the recommendations of this consultation. He also said that the success of the Master Plan of Delhi depends up on the support from the neighbouring states as well. About the homeless, the Master Plan must provide space and other provisions for them. There have been considerations for the homeless and other are parts of vulnerable society. The homeless are mostly in the areas of railway, bus stand, mandis etc. where the unorganized sector is found. They sleep close to their work place. If alternative plans are designed, the DDA will support providing space for the homeless. Multiple uses are desirable except in green areas. He was very hopeful that the recommendations of the workshop would be incorporated in the revised Master Plan of Delhi.
Mr Kumar Anand, Director IA/BVK, Slum & JJ Wing, MCD said that the department has been working and managing 12 NS for such homeless and marginalised people and it has been felt that the NGOs support can bring significant change. Govt.-NGOs coordination is essential. The Slum & JJ has decided to take support from the NGOs. 2 Raen Baseras have been transferred to AAA along with the Community Centres. He said that such consultations are very important and the results would surely come.
Mr Amod Kanth said that the people who are staying at the shelters are given some identity cards but equally important is food that can be provided by the Dept. of Food & Civil Supplies. Nityanand ji and other religious groups can also play an important role in this aspect. Ms Sushmita Shekhar from Sulabh International suggested that all the religious and charitable trusts that get land and other facilities from the government should come forward for shelters and rehabilitation of the homeless and destitute people.
“Mrs Sheila Dikshit, the CM of Delhi reiterated to utilize Community Centres and Basti Vikas Kendras for shelter purpose. She asked the marginalised and homeless to unite and fight against the abusers, even if it is police or any other government agencies. She told the
NGOs, civil society groups and bureaucrats present in the meeting to come forward with some practical and concrete solutions regarding the problems of homeless and marginalised.
She expressed concern that Delhi population is growing rapidly and Delhi has become the city with highest density of population. She supported efforts for creating shelters for the homeless people. She also mentioned that finding shelters at the heart of the city would be difficult as there is hardly any space. The National Capital Region suburbs could be used for sheltering the homeless. She said that very few Community Centres and other buildings are available in urban areas. There is hardly any vacant land. Prosperity of the state has become problem for city. The rate of migration has increased. Referring to the 5 year Plans, she said that the duration of 20 years for revision of the Master Plan for Delhi is too long a period.
She also spoke about the marginalised sections of the city living in slums. She asked whether eviction is justified and responded by saying that relocation must be done with facilities that re not provided at present. Speaking about the cases of child abuse, she said that the children should get together, and fight against the abusers, even if they happen to be policemen. She also mentioned the arrangements of temporary shelters done during the winter of 2002-2003, by AAI, AAA and Prayas. She praised the efforts to protect people from the cold wave. She mentioned the successful effort of one organization, which has converted BVK to run hospital. She also mentioned the problem of migration from other parts of the country. The DDA has formulated lad use plans for all strata, still people are staying in jhuggi clusters who were saved by her. She acknowledged the economic contributions of the homeless and marginalized people who are service providers to the city of Delhi. If DDA makes plan for Delhi her Govt. will contribute. She presented the example of Kathputli colony for proposed in-situ development. Human Development for Delhi is going to be prepared. Concept of NCR should be developed if population grows where will they go. People should get disinterested towards Delhi.
“Mr S P Gupta asked municipal bodies and NGOs in Delhi to utilize the resources available with the Deptt. of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation scheme of ‘Shelter and Sanitation for Shelterless’ to create composite and remunerative facilities night shelters. He said that the earlier scheme was not successful and states were not utilizing it optimally. Now the scheme has been revised and subsidy has been increased up to 80% of the cost of the project. The municipal bodies would provide land and buildings and NGOs/CBOs would manage the shelters. He urged the municipal bodies of Delhi (MCD and NDMC) to utilize the financial and other helps available under the scheme. Mr A.K.Mishra, Principal Adviser, Planning Commission, also asked the municipal bodies to utilize the funds available with the central schemes. The Govt. of Delhi has never utilized such funds for night shelters.
Many participants felt that where land is not available to create new night shelters, existing buildings and other infrastructure can be used to accommodate the homeless. The government lands have been given on concessional rates to trusts, religious and
charitable bodies, which should be utilized for such purposes. A food security program by the Food & Civil Supplies was also discussed.
Mr Amod Kanth said that 90% of the homeless and marginalised people are working people, providing services to Delhi. Everyone expressed concern about the population growth and incessant migration to urban centers. But Mr Amod Kanth was of the view that India has still low level of urbanization as decadal growth of urban population is still 2.7%, far below compared to 4% in the developing countries elsewhere.
Mr Harsh Mander, Country Director, Action Aid India said that the one of the objectives of the session was to discuss how government and civil society could come together to create shelters which would be full of dignity. Last winter we were impressed that lot of people got sympathized when they heard people die during the winters. But the fact is that people die around the year. He also said that the homeless are criminalized, they do not get uninterrupted sleep, and vulnerable section specially women and children are exploited. We put up efforts and look for solutions, which are not expansive. For example, space in the St. Anthony’s Boys school was made available for street children. In the night, schools and colleges are empty which can be used for night shelters, hence no dearth of space. It’s a matter of opening of heart rather than opening physically. There should be space for women and children now living on the streets. Delhi Govt. has issued a circular that any school can be opened. Delhi Public School has agreed, similarly Sri Ram School, Vasant Valley School and others would like to open. Just we talked about shelter, equally important is hunger among homeless women and children. Education of children is also very important.
Students from School of Planning and Architecture emphasized on the time-sharing concept, where the same building can be used for night shelters apart from its original nature. They also mentioned that we should work on the basis of equal citizenship and not on charity basis. Even police stations can be used to accommodate homeless as these places would be very safe in the night.
Mr Dhanajay Tingal of AAA shared that AAA has done a survey to identify places, which are either not used or underutilized and that can be used as shelters for the homeless, such as parking places. Representatives from Sanjha Manch pointed out that the lapses in the policies encourage migration and adds to the problems in the urban centers. They informed that Sanjha Manch has formulated an alternative housing policy. Mr Harsh Mander added that people from the middle class has the right to come to the cities like Delhi then why not poor people can come here to earn a livelihood. Mr Rajib Haldar of Prayas mentioned that Delhi has parking space for about 30 lakh cars but hardly any space for 1 lakh homeless people.
Mr Shekhar Day, an Engineer from Delhi Development Authority stated that in normal cases relocation is done without developing the relocation area but recently DDA team has visited some relocated sites in Mumbai. Most of the sites were developed under the in-situ development plan. The identified areas are developed by the private builders who built flats and slum dwellers are allocated some of these flats, rest of the flats are commercially
marketed by the builders. Thus the slum areas are developed with provisions of all the basic civic amenities without any financial burden on the government. Similar in-situ development schemes can be introduced here in Delhi. The DDA has surveyed 14 locations and 3 out of them have been identified for the in-situ development. The laws in Delhi related to slums and their upgradation have to be amended. For example, the vertical heights of the building are kept very low in Delhi, which makes it difficult for the private builders to give flats to the slum dwellers and keep the profit margin also.
Mr Ashok Jain, Hon’ble Mayor of Delhi thanked Mr Amod Kanth for inviting him in the consultation. He said that 30 lakh population is living in Slum & JJ clusters, there are about 1 lakh pavement dwellers who are the most suppressed. He said that these problems are due to incessant migration since nearly 4-5 lakh people come to Delhi every year. There are 12 night shelters being run by the MCD. He proposed to build 3 tier night shelters. 15 New shelters would be opened including 5 exclusively for women. 2 Raen Baseras have already been handed over to AAA. Similarly other organizations can take over such night shelters. He urged the political leadership to leave political leadership to leave politics away on such issues. MCD has provided 6000 plots from very beginning, welfare of the poor have been MCD’s concern. Population control is essential and we have to give importance to welfare. In Delhi everyone gets employment but shelter is a problem due to lack of space.
Vote of thanks was given by Mr Indu Prakash Singh of Action Aid India. He appealed to all the participants and other groups to participate and cooperate in the works with the homeless.
The following Recommendations are made for Shelter and rehabilitative programs to serve the homeless and marginalised in Delhi, based on the deliberations during the Consultation on ‘Space for the Homeless and Marginalised in Delhi’ on 25th July at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
- Utilization of the Scheme for Shelter and Sanitation (a centrally sponsored scheme by Department of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, Govt. of India), for the homeless / shelterless in Delhi. HUDCO would finance the project according to the Ministry’s guidelines (being revised).
- Proposals to be submitted by the Urban Local Bodies (New Delhi Municipal Council and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi) for the implementation of said scheme in their respective areas based on the surveys conducted and areas identified.
- The Municipal Corporation of Delhi to create 15 new shelters for the homeless, including 5 shelters especially for the homeless women, as announced by the Hon’ble Mayor of Delhi Sh.Ashok Jain. Some shelter homes especially for the children with the programs like education and vocational training, health care, recreation, rehabilitation, etc.
- Identification and provisions for land / sites / infrastructure for the shelters by the land owning agencies in Delhi at the locations proposed by the Joint Apex Committee.
- Provision of definite space (land / sites / infrastructure) for the shelterless in the urban planning process. Earmarked spaces (for the shelters and carrying out various commercial activities of the unorganized sector) in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021.
- Systematic surveys involving ULBs and NGOs to find out the living patterns and concentration areas of the homeless / shelterless people and different types of it to initiate action.
- Utilization of less used and under-utilized public buildings / community centers for shelter purposes during extreme weather conditions or difficult circumstances
- Multiple use of land / sites / infrastructure for shelters and other activities for the rehabilitation of the homeless people.
- Composite use of shelters for semi-commercial activities to make the shelters self-sustainable and more rehabilitative for the homeless people.
- Land / sites / infrastructure provided to the religious and charitable organizations on concessional rates should be utilized for the community service and especially for the destitute and poor. Specific food security, health care and shelters program should be made available to the homeless and destitute by these religious and charitable organizations.
- Shelters should be in proximity to the market areas / work place of the working homeless people, as far as possible. The places are identified where space can be utilized.
- Provision for food security and ration card to the homeless in terms of the existing BPL norms, antyodya and Mid-day Meal programs of the Govt.
- Shelter, health, food, sanitation, livelihood needs of the homeless and marginalised should be recognized and public service facilities, welfare schemes and programs should be extended to them
- No agency alone can solve the problems of the homeless and marginalised, hence it is necessary to work with cooperation and participation of all the concerned agencies. The Govt.-NGOs-Corproate partnership model of shelter, facilities and activities for, such as the Joint Apex Committee, would be the most suitable one.
List of Participants
Sh. Ashok Jain
Hon'ble Mayor of Delhi
Municipal Corporation of Delhi
Town Hall, Chandni Chowk
Delhi - 110006
Smt. Sheila Dikshit
The Chief Minister of Delhi
Govt. of NCT Delhi
I P Estate, ITO
New Delhi - 110002
Sh. Harsh Mander
Action Aid India
C-88, South Extension-II
Sh. Amod K Kanth
Delhi for Change
Action Aid India
C-88, South Extension-II
Ms. Paramjeet Kaur
Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan
S-442, School Block
Shakarpur, Delhi - 110092
Mrs. Neeti Bhardwaj
Delhi Regional Office
Action Aid India
C-88, South Extension-II
Mr. G C Chaturvedi
Food & Civil Suplies
Govt. of NCT Delhi
Mr. Ashok Kumar
9-10, Bhai Vir Singh Marg
New Delhi - 110001
Ms. Madhu Shrivastav
Connaught Circus, Opposite Nirula's
Mr. Vipin Bhatt
208, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi
Mr. Alpen She
India Climate Justice Forum
Mr. Rajesh Batbayal
Delhi NGO Forum,
Dept. of Social Welfare,
Sewa Kutir Complex, Kingsway Camp,
B.B Marg, New Delhi
Mr. Sebastian K
YMCA, Cultural Center Building
Jai Singh Road, New Delhi
Mr. Rajiv Singh
United Nations Volunteers India
UNDP India 55 Lodhi Estae.
Post Box No: 3059, New Delhi - 03
Mr. S.K Dua
Amar Jyoti Urban Slum,
Vikas Marg, New Delhi
Dr. Kamini Prakash
Hope Project Charitable Trust
T-22, Phool Wali Gali,
Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin