Coronavirus threat: To solve crowding, 35 buildings converted into shelter homes

Ashna Butani
coronavirus, night shelters, delhi night shelters, crowding at night shelters, overcrowding at night shelters, indian express

At the shelter home at AIIMS.

After reports of overcrowding at night shelters in the capital, where several daily wage labourers and migrant workers have sought shelter amid the 21-day lockdown, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) has converted 35 empty buildings into shelter homes.

“They will be operational by Friday and people will be shifted from the overcrowded shelters to the new ones. We are also ensuring availability of soap, water and hand sanitisers across the shelters. We will ensure that people living in the shelters are tested soon,” said DUSIB member Bipin Rai.

Several workers are stranded in the capital as all modes of inter-state transport have been suspended for 21 days. While some decided to walk hundreds of kilometres to their villages in other states, others have sought refuge in the shelter homes. As a result, day-time occupancy at the shelters has increased by 2.5 times in the past three days.

As per a DUSIB report, 22 shelters near Jama Masjid, Yamuna Pushta and Kashmere Gate have exceeded their capacity in the last two nights. While two of them are buildings, three are tents and the rest are portable cabins. For instance, a shelter in Yamuna Bazaar with a capacity of 50 had 90 people on March 23 and 170 people on March 24. A tent in Nizamuddin with a capacity of 50 saw 105 people on March 23 and 119 people on March 24.

“Usually, there are around 7,000 people in the 234 shelters across the city. The shelters can accommodate a total of 18,538 people. They have been full since the lockdown was enforced,” said DUSIB member Bipin Rai.

The Delhi government has been distributing food at the shelters since Monday and is also considering financial aid for those living in shelters. According to a DUSIB report, there are 78 RCC (reinforced cement concrete) buildings, 115 portable cabins, and 41 tents that function as shelters.

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