On the eve of winter 2003, which the met department has said would be unusually severe, eight ngos and religious institutions have banded together to provide shelter to 20,000 homeless. The ngo network’s primary focus is shelterless women, children, handicapped and aged, the most vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.
Curiously, at a time when the number of homeless people is growing, the government is actually closing down its night shelters, or raen baseras. The rationale: the homeless do not avail of them. Last year, against a capacity of 2,454, occupancy was only 800 to 900. The ngos found that conditions in these shelters were so poor the occupants felt safer on the streets.