Delhi’s harsh winters take a heavy toll of its estimated 1.4 lakh street-dwellers. Beat constables found 3,040 unidentified corpses on the pavements last year, most of them victims of the cold. This estimate excludes those who sleep on carts, rickshaws and tarpaulin tents as they are not classified as ‘homeless’. With them, the disinherited would number around 8-10 lakh.
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.