On 25.07.03 Action Aid, etc, held a consultation at
IHC about space in the Master Plan for the homeless
or, rather, for NGO-run night shelters with commercial
utilization option.

DDA, to its credit, took a very sensible plannerly
position that all this was unnecessary, but was
sidelined. Also sidelined was the traditional homeless
care sector – religious bodies – from whom an offer
was made to practically take care of the whole
problem. Also scuttled was the plannerly suggestion
that in consonance with law and Master Plan the
central role should be played by Delhi Police
especially since options being advocated by the NGOs
were illegal under the Plan and not in the nature of
bonafide Plan adjustments.

About the last I am writing to Police Commissioner and
DDA Vice Chairman an open letter that I will post on
the web by Monday.

Apart from the brazen advocacy of an NGO friendly
model and fairly standard tactics for marginalizing
‘dissent’ in this brand of ‘participation’, two things
were especially striking. One, there seems to be quite
a bit being spent for weekly meetings at IHC, tea and
cookies, etc, to chat about the homeless and hungry.
I think it would be a great idea, within their
paradigm, to creating a massive night shelter at IHC,
which is centrally located, has huge and grossly
underutilized premises, holds endless meetings with
plenty of food, is the ‘habitat’ center, etc.

Two, the Chief Minister’s speech was a stunner. Apart
from completely obfuscating the problem of not a very
large number of people on streets with that of large
numbers in slums (to detriment of both), the lady had
the most peculiar ‘practical suggestions’. One was
offer of her personal support to any NGO wanting of
‘take-over’ any community building for anything.
Another was an account of an instance of her
pragmatism. She’d advised a group of street children
not to expect the police to protect them from abuse
and to buy whistles to call for help and to
collectively beat up any cop who harassed them.

The news reports today, obviously based on a press
release, miss the seriousness of what was going on
yesterday and how. I do plan to write up a somewhat
more incisive account by and by.


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