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 SC asks for status reports from all states and centre

Over Rs 2,100 crore had been sanctioned by the central government to build shelters for homeless people (especially roadside dwellers) in cities across the country. So far, only a handful has been built.

An advocate practising in Supreme Court had filed a PIL with regard to the safety of roadside dwellers. The bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, had issued notice and impleaded all the states in the PIL, directing that they file status reports. The status reports should contain the number of homeless persons, number of shelters provided at  present and also the action which the  governments of each state and union territory proposes to take to provide shelter to  those who do not have the same even today.

At the last hearing, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan had submitted a chart on the basis of a National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) report. NALSAR has made the report based on information from state legal service authorities. The National Urban Livelihood Scheme states that there should be one shelter capable of holding 100 people, for every 1 lakh homeless people.

In UP 200 shelters were required but there are none. The requirement in Maharashtra was 400, but only 29 have been sanctioned. Bhushan said: “The Supreme Court must call the chief secretaries of the states and ask what has happened to the Rs 2,000 crore sanctioned by the central government. Shelter is a fundamental right. The Union affidavit of December 31, 2015 states that Rs 2185.50 crore had been disbursed to the states. UP has received Rs 180 crore and no information is available yet regarding the number of shelters built.”

The bench stated: “This is a very sad state of affairs, where money is also made available. Tell us, what is the most effective way to implement this? The issue has been pending for 13 years. What has the Union done to find out what happened to the money disbursed to states? Hundreds will die by the time any shelter is constructed. You are not making the Taj Mahal, but a shelter.”

The matter was adjourned as no status report was given by the Union of India.

—India Legal Bureau

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