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“Homeless children vulnerable to dangers''

Staff Reporter

Study conducted by a group of NGOs

CHENNAI: Lack of care, protection and healthcare facilities for girls is having an adverse impact on the sex ratio of homeless children in the 6-17 age group in the city.

This was reported in a study conducted by a group of NGOs, on the living conditions of the homeless in Chennai, which was released on Wednesday.

It points out that the condition of the people covered in the study is linked to the lack of adequate shelter.

The study was conducted in eight zones of Chennai Corporation and 2,545 families were enumerated. The Basin Bridge zone had the highest number of homeless population of Chennai (53 per cent) followed by the Pulianthope zone (26 per cent).

Migrant labourers were not covered by the study.

“The Supreme Court has ordered State governments to construct shelters for homeless citizens. One shelter for homeless persons for every one lakh urban population should be built in Chennai,” said Indu Prakash Singh, Technical Advisor, Indo-Global Social Service Society. There are very few such shelters here , he said.

The lack of facilities for children in such families exposes them to multiple dangers, including sexual abuse, said Vanessa Peter, who was part of the team that conducted the study. A total of 196 informal occupations are associated with the homeless population in Chennai, said A.J. Hariharan, Secretary of Indian Community Welfare Organisation.

The school dropout rate of children in the 6-14 age group is 13 per cent and it increases to 75 per cent in the 15-18 age group.

Around 58 per cent of the homeless are able to get the benefits of the PDS. Though the government schemes are meant for the poor, the homeless population in the city is unable to avail itself of the benefits of the schemes as they are not issued family cards, according to the study.

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