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Homeless kids back in the open

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, OCT. 12. Homeless women and destitute children who have taken refuge in shelter homes in Lutyens' Delhi are having a tough time these days due to the alleged highhandedness of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) authorities. Within a short span of 10 days, the NDMC has undertaken an eviction drive at a couple of places.

On Tuesday morning, a group of NDMC employees reached Palika Hostel on R.K. Ashram Marg near Gole Market and started evicting around 100 street children and shelterless women who have been living in a portion of the hostel since January 2004. While the NDMC officials stated that these people were given shelter for the last winter season only and that they should have vacated it long ago to make way for their housing project, the homeless children and women along with the volunteers of the two non-government organisations -- Prayas and Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan -- refused to move out as they had " no alternate place to shift".

"Without any prior information, the NDMC squad reached the hostel and started pulling down the wooden partitions inside the building and threw out the belongings of the inmates," said Indu Prakash Singh of the Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan. For now, the kids have returned to the hostel with their belongings and women too plan to stay put and protest against any eviction move of the civic body.

It was earlier this month that the NDMC removed about a dozen street children from some vacant shops behind Hanuman Mandir on Baba Kharak Singh Marg where they had been living for the past few months. Since then these kids have again started living on the streets. A number of NGOs had then criticised the NDMC for its `"anti-poor'' move.

Meanwhile, the NDMC claimed that the Delhi Government had already constructed a Nirmal Chaya Complex, a home for shelterless near Tihar Jail in West Delhi, for these people but they were not ready to shift from their temporary shelters. "We had written to the Delhi Government which had informed that there were enough space for shelterless at their new place. We need the hostel to make way for our housing project," informed the NDMC spokesperson, Madan Thapliyal, who also claimed that the two NGOs had been running the shelter homes without a valid licence.

However, Mr. Singh, who claimed that the Delhi Social Welfare Minister, Yoganand Shastri, had asked the NDMC to stop eviction of children and women from the hostel, alleged that the Nirmal Chaya Complex was like a jail where even basic facilities related to health, education and job were missing.

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