On the ground, however, in Rajasthan’s cities, this goal seems quite a distant dream. In July 2015, commissioners appointed by the high court of Rajasthan to look into issues of the homeless toured all three shelters for the poor in Udaipur. Across these shelters, conditions were abominable – there was no water in toilets, safe drinking water was hard to come by and the blankets stank.
“During the course of our discussions with officials, it was often asserted that these (homeless) families do not want homes and/or are not willing to move into shelters. Such perception comes from lack of understanding and appreciation of the special needs of homeless. Our experiences related to shelters suggest that the present scheme do not cater to the needs of homeless families. The problems may persist if the administration’s perceptions do not change,” the commissioners noted in their second report on the urban homeless in the state.
They found that none of the shelters in Rajasthan were run in accordance with guidelines issued under the Scheme for Urban Homeless (SUH). At the Udayapole main bus stand shelter at Udaipur, they found that the employee of the municipality tasked with the responsibility of taking care of the shelter was handicapped. The shelter was on the first floor, and this employee could not climb to that floor.
Under SUH guidelines, each homeless person must get 50 sq ft of space. The Udayapole shelter could not have accommodated more than 10 people. The guard at this shelter told the commissioners that in winter about 40 people cram into the space. There was no toilet or drinking water facility for residents, who were forced to go out and fill water in plastic bottles.
At Pahada bus stand shelter, residents said that they went to the toilet in the open. At the only other option nearby-the Sulabh toilet-they had to pay Rs 5 for using the toilet and Rs 10 for having a bath.
The Maharan Bhupal Stadium facility, meanwhile, could accommodate about 100 people. It was large and a newly built structure. But the toilet pipes were broken and there were no lights on the stairs. It was also poorly ventilated and the blankets were so dirty that they could hardly be used, the commissioners noted.
Most residents of these centres were male casual labourers who come to city for a short duration. The commissioners noted that many homeless people were not aware of these facilities as there were no display boards. There was also poor awareness of these shelters among the general public.
Credits ET Realty