More sweat and tears for homeless at night shelters in Delhi | Delhi News


NEW DELHI: The extended Covid-19 lockdown has not only robbed hundreds of daily-wage earners of their income, but also of the comfort of fans and air coolers in this extreme weather. With mechanical workshops closed due to the lockdown, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), which provides night shelters for the city’s homeless, has yet to install new coolers or get the old ones repaired. And with many of the shelters comprising porta cabins and tin sheds, the sleeping spaces are now veritable ovens.
According to the data available on DUSIB’s website, there are 78 permanent night shelters run from concrete buildings, 115 porta cabins and 11 temporary shelters. Taking social distancing as a factor, these 204 shelters can accommodate around 7,000 people, and with the inordinately hot weather making even the nights outside uncomfortable, most shelter homes are almost filled to capacity.
Though DUSIB has installed air and water coolers in the shelters to make conditions easier for homeless people, it has yet to make the appliances operational. “The summer action plan for the homeless states that the night shelters should have the provision of desert coolers. Despite the summer being at its peak, the action plan has yet to be rolled out,” alleged Sunil Kumar Aledia of the Centre for Holistic Development, a not-for-profit organisation working with the homeless. “The desert coolers are either missing or lying dysfunctional and their repair is yet to be undertaken. In some of the shelters, even the fans are not working.”
DUSIB’s summer action plan also includes a coat of reflective paint on the roof of porta cabins to keep temperatures inside low, additional water storage, arrangement for cold water for drinking and regular fogging to control mosquitoes.
Indu Prakash Singh, member of the Supreme Court-appointed state-level Shelter Monitoring Committee, said that even the fans at the shelter homes were not adequate for the current heatwave. “In the permanent shelters, where the residents stay in big halls, the number of fans for rooms of their size is disproportionate,” Singh noted. “Large sections of the rooms remain uncovered by the fans, and this creates great discomfort in this weather.”
DUSIB officials accepted that repair and purchase of desert coolers were held up by the lockdown. “We had a meeting earlier where we prepared a detailed plan on the repair and purchase of coolers and fans for shelters,” disclosed DUSIB member-expert Bipin Rai. “But neither are shops open nor are mechanics available. Still, they remain a top priority.”
With relaxations in the lockdown, markets are opening and DUSIB hopes to get the equipment repaired or buy new ones.

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