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Homeland Security

COVID-19: Cramped Govt Shelters in Delhi Provide Food But Hardly Any Space for Social Distancing

Sputnik News

09:49 GMT 29.03.2020

New Delhi (Sputnik): More than 125,000 people in the Indian capital Delhi depend on government shelters. As a 21-day lockdown began earlier this week, Delhi's homeless population thronged to these places, overwhelming shelters meant to house only several thousand individuals.

While most are busy practicing the norms of social distancing and are locked up inside their homes due the coronavirus outbreak in India, there are many people who cannot follow these regulations even if they wished to, as they live in such cramped spaces that the measure being advised has been rendered useless.

Several Raen Basera, or government shelter homes, across the national capital which house around 40 people in a small room with little space are provided with almost all facilities but have closed it down for new comers.

"I work in Kalkaji and belong to Varanasi. We are living in shelter homes here and are taking precautions like banning entry for outsiders, sanitising everyone who is going out for basic necessities when they return", said one resident, Nusrat.

"A local police official has donated food, masks, and soap to everyone living here. Our institution has provided us with money which is being utilised to buy rations, and then we prepare food inside only. Still, there was scarcity due to some more outsiders whom we have accommodated..." she said, adding that police officials are supporting them by distributing food and providing a Gurdwara helpline number.

At several government shelter homes people have been ensured that starting 29 March, a Langar, where free meals will be served, will be organised at 1:00 p.m. IST and from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

"This will be helpful for tourists who had come to the city but couldn't travel back due to the lockdown. For two days some of them had only water to drink but no food", said Vinay, an resident at the Kashmiri gate shelter home.

At most of the shelter homes people are trying to highlight their plight in the media through which this information can reach officials.

"Around 40-50 people reside in these halls including kids. We are trying to manage at least one hand distance while sleeping. This is the most we can afford in order to keep social distancing", revealed Vinay.

Caretakers at the shelter homes have also revealed that if any of them is unwell, then they are immediately calling the helpline and are being sent to health care centres.

As the number of people taking shelter in these government funded homes is growing with each passing day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has promised more such homes across the capital.

"We have capacity to feed lunch and dinner to approximately 400,000 persons daily. No one will have to go hungry during the lockdown", Kejriwal said on Saturday.

On 24 March, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The number of positive cases reached 979, including 48 foreign nationals, on Sunday, while 87 have been discharged from the hospital.


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