Imagine spending the night out in the open with no heater to keep you warm and only a tattered sweater or jacket to protect yourself. A scary thought isn't it? Sadly, thousands of homeless people in the city live this nightmare day in and out and of them, many - 7,472 till the last count - are children.
After the Supreme Court pulled up the state government in January 2010 for making no special winter arrangements for the homeless and directed it to come up with a policy in this regard, a survey was conducted in July 2010 by NGOs under the supervision of a state-appointed mother NGO, St Stephen's Hospital.
Dr Amod Kumar of St Stephen's Hospital said the NGOs first conducted a mapping exercise and found 67,151 homeless across the city. Next, they started the registration process. Till now, 55,031 homeless have made it to the list. Explaining the difference in numbers, Kumar said: "During the Commonwealth Games, a large number of homeless left the city. Thus the number of people mapped stood at 67,000 before the Games. But during the final survey, only 55,031 homeless could be found." He said though the survey is over, a process is being evolved to continue including homeless people in the list. Of the 55,031 people surveyed, the government has studied 35,548 in a mid-term analysis and submitted its report to the government. Of them, 7,472 (21%) are children. As many as 1,991 (5.6%) of these children are orphans. While 1,792 are boys and 199 are girls. What is worrying the government is that the number of children will go up as the present figures are the outcome of just a mid-term analysis.
Another fact that stood out was that the final figures were nearly half of the expected number of homeless. Kumar said only those people found living on the streets for three months or perceived to be ones likely to be on the streets for the next three months were taken into consideration.
St Stephen's Hospital will suggest to the government to involve child welfare committees (CWCs) to work out ways to bring homeless children under the ambit of a protection system.
The number of women on the streets is also alarmingly high. Of the 35,548 homeless, 29,980 (84%) are men and 5,562 are women (16%). An analysis of occupations shows that 40% of the homeless are daily wage workers, 25% are rickshaw pullers and 7% are rag pickers.
It also touched upon the problems faced by the homeless. Harassment by police topped the list with 11,912 homeless (33.5%) saying that they lived in fear of cops.
• Number of homeless mapped in city 67,151
• During survey, 55,031 made it to the government’s registration list as many homeless had left during the CWG
• Of them, NGOs conducted a mid-term analysis of 35,548