Ghaziabad: "I do not like it there, drunk people used to shout and fight there all night. It's better to sleep under a tree than sleeping in a night shelter,” says Rahul, a six-year-old, homeless boy.
According to a report by the Health Department of Ghaziabad, 10 people have been found dead around the four main night shelters in the last 15 days.
Night shelters have been built in the city for homeless people. There is an arrangement of mattresses, blankets, and a closed hall to protect against cold air. There is also a TV for entertainment. Yet, many people do not like staying at the night shelters while many others are unaware of this facility. As a result, most of the destitute people sleep on the road dividers and on the footpath.
In such a scenario these homeless people are always in a vulnerable situation. Falling victim to a nighttime cold, or coming under motor vehicles veering off the road.
One can see these homeless people sleeping on the divider and footpaths on the main roads of Raj Nagar, Govindpuram, Vivekananda Nagar, Hapur Road, and Sanjay Nagar.
Sheetal Devi, a homeless person from Raj Nagar extension says, “ We use to pick plastic bottles and other sellable things from the trash. Our livelihood depends upon this. The dealer to whom we sell this trash does not buy things until we have a certain amount. So, in general, we collect trash for three days and then we sell it to the dealer. We can not take this trash in the night shelter with us and if we leave this outside unguarded then it will surely be stolen. We do not have any other option. We sleep on the road to guard our livelihood." She further added in a light tone, “I will prefer dying with cold over dying with starvation.”
Municipal Corporation Ghaziabad and Ghaziabad Development Authority must take a few steps to make people aware of this.
Apart from the night shelter located near Nasirpur gate, people have been found dead outside the green belt of Rajnagar and district MMG. Among them, 8 bodies were unclaimed as the relatives did not come out.
“Some people live in a drunken state outside and inside the night shelters. They go out in the open and die due to the cold. So far, four people have been brought to the emergency room in a dead condition and the bodies have been sent for post-mortem.” Dr Anurag Bhargava, CMS, District MMG Hospital.