Homeless seek refuge under bus shelters, tree shade

Hyderabad: With an apathetic government turning a blind eye and non-governmental organizations (NGO) also toning down support, Hyderabad’s homeless folks, which includes migrant workers, now have literally nowhere to go. With heavy rains lashing the city over the last two months, many of them have been forced to seek shelter under bus shelters and trees.   

Photo: Mohammed Hussain

Earlier during the lockdown, homeless people turned to voluntary organizations for support. However, now, with the lockdown getting lifted completely and life going back to normal, homeless have now made encampments near bus shelters and under trees across Hyderabad, given that they have almost no support.

Left on their own, they have also had to face unpleasant situations during heavy rains, especially since it leads to  more mosquitoes breeding during this season. “I cannot leave my place because someone else will occupy it,” said Shivaiah, a homeless person who is staying under a bust shelter located in front of. the state Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department (MAUD) office at AC Guards. 

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Photo: Mohammed Hussain

Like Shivaiah, at least seven other people including the elderly are laying under the bus shelter with him. Homeless people now are spread across several areas of the twin city and can be seen in large groups near Nampally Railway station, Nampally Dargah, Paradise, Khairatabad Junction and the state Assembly.    

“Right to Shelter is a Fundamental Right guaranteed to Indian citizens under Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution. But sadly, it is not being implemented in the state,” said Professor Vishweshwar Rao, who had filed a PIL in High Court three months ago seeking government intevention.

“The case is pending in the court. In the last hearing, the HC directed the GHMC commissioner to file detailed reports regarding homeless people,” Professor Rao said. “When the lockdown started, the government made arrangements for migrant workers. But soon after they stopped and these people have come out on the road and have remained there ever since,” he added. Rao also pointed out that most of the homeless people are old and therefore vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Photo: Mohammed Hussain

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation earlier set up around six temporary shelter homes when the city saw a little over 100 COVID-19 positive cases. According to the data available on the GHMC website, the corporation is now feeding a little over 50,000 people a day. The number has come down from feeding 1.5 lakh people in the initial months of lockdown during March and April. 

“I was at the Exhibition Ground in March when the government gave us food and provided us with basic amenities. Now, they are even charging us for food,” said Mochappa, who stays under a Metro Pillar near the Nampally Railway station. Concerned GHMC officials howevr did not respond to several calls for a comment. 

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