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Rain showers misery on Jaipur’s homeless people

JAIPUR: On Friday, the city witnessed the best rain of the season. The downpour, coming after a spell of weak monsoon showers, was welcome. One class of people, however, found all their belongings drenched – the Homeless, many of whom erected shanties, found even the wheat flour they carefully conserved wet and useless.

The state government carried out the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Patta Vitaran Yojana campaign from April to June this year, giving legal rights to property and plots to the homeless. People’s Union for Civil Liberties, in collaboration with Centre of Equity Studies, conducted a survey to assess the condition of those living in shanties after Friday’s rain. They found that the people in these slums were unaware of the government campaign to provide legal titles to land to the homeless.

Street medicine camps are organized once a week in these slums by the CES team. Many slum dwellers belong to Denotified Tribes (DNTs – the British government had a list of “criminal tribes” – after independence, these tribes were “denotified”). Among the shanty residents are also poor Dalit families.

Teams of young interns panned out across the city on Friday to study the condition of residents of bastis. They visited the Banjara-dominant basti of Bambala Puliya, the slum in Vidhyadhar Nagar where many Bairwa and Mali families live, Bais Godam and the 200 Feet Bypass Road slum.

None of the nearly 400 people surveyed had heard of the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Campaign. Despite an order from the Rajasthan High Court last year, that to correct historic wrong, all denotified tribes must be provided housing by the state, nothing has yet been done.

At many shanties, the plastic sheaths that serve as roofing had blown away in the wind. Poor drainage had left narrow paths flooded and the homes too were flooded. Even cooking stoves had been inundated with water, placed as they were on the ground. Unable to light the fire, with firewood wet and flour and other material also damaged in rain, it was clear many families had no option but to stay hungry. Many would not manage to sleep in peace, as everything at home was wet or soggy.

The interns saw infants just half a month old – parents were unsure how to take care of little babies in such conditions. One old woman told an intern that death would be very welcome, under the circumstances.

At the slum near the Bais Godam flyover, behind Crystal Mall, one man said, “We will now have JDA officials too to deal with. They have been threatening us with eviction from this site.” There are about 20 Kanjar families in the area, with about 30 women and 50 children. The men do odd jobs like polishing the boots of people on the streets to get by. Instead of seeing how to offer some help to these poor and helpless people, government functionaries are interested only in clearing the area of homeless families.

Bhawandas said his house had been razed by the JDA just days ago. “They used bulldozers to get rid of our shanties!” he said.
As some people from the slum tried to shelter under the flyover from the rain, the JDA blocked off access to that part of the flyover. Families huddled on the road.

Rupal Sharma, an intern and a student of OP Jindal University in Haryana, said, “We found high morbidity – the stagnant water and the poor levels of cleanliness predispose these people to ill health. In one of the bastis, we found a five-year-old survivor of rape. Conditions are hard, as people who shelter near shops in rain are chased away by policemen.”

The last physical survey of the homeless was completed in 2003. Under orders from the Supreme Court, another survey was begun just months ago. The state has less than 400 night shelters, many of them in poor shape and unable to house the vast number of poor migrants who form the bulk of the urban slum population. The purpose of the survey is to construct as many shelters as necessary for ameliorating the condition of the homeless. The Supreme Court ordered the setting up of shelters for the homeless in 2010. According to guidelines of the National Urban Livelihoods Mission, there ought to be shelters that can house 100 homeless people for every lakh of population.

Source : timesofindia

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Rain showers misery on Jaipur’s homeless people


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