The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in violation of a Supreme Court (SC) order and the state government’s guideline, has not built a single night shelter for Mumbai’s millions who are homeless. A government resolution on establishing these shelters had been issued 15 months ago.
Josantony Joseph, advisor for the state to an SC-appointed commissioner, wrote to the BMC on August 6 this year, stating that this is a complete violation of SC orders.
The state issued the resolution after the Supreme Court originally issued an order in January 2010. “As per the [second] order dated January 23, 2012, we must have 284 night shelters in Maharashtra according to norms and we observe that there is not a single functioning shelter for homeless adults or families in Mumbai.”
According to a GR issued on July 14 last year, the state promised one shelter for every 1lakh population, necessitating well over 100 shelters in Mumbai alone.
The advisor’s letter came after the BMC, on July 4 this year, declared that the city has seven functional night shelters. However, upon verification by the advisor’s office, it was found that five of these are run by NGOs and were functional before the SC’s order. The remaining two are not functional.
“In the present context, none of these five shelters (which are actually functioning) can be perceived as complying with orders of SC to offer shelter to homeless adults,” the letter said. The BMC wrote to the state advisor in September, insisting that these children be considered homeless. The letter said, “Sincere efforts are being made by the MCGM to initiate night shelter program in the jurisdiction of MCGM in spite of various constraints of which availability of space is the main hurdle.”
Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte said he has taken note of the problem. “We will do whatever is possible,” he said. The advisor’s letter said, “It may be necessary to have a time-bound programme on how MCGM [Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai] plans to start the 12 proposed shelters...”
Activist Brijesh Arya said, “The homeless are the most vulnerable among the city’s poor, but the municipality has not created a single shelter home despite the SC order.”