The Wire made trips around central and south Delhi to find that most homeless families in those areas depend on the community taps installed at temples and mosques for drinking water. For sanitation purposes, most use public toilets.
One family from Maharashtra lives on the footpaths of central Delhi. They fill a one-litre water bottle for Rs 3 from New Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (NDMC) water dispensing machine – but only on days they can afford it. The machine is installed inside Connaught Place’s central park.
There are no such machines installed in south Delhi. A family that lives on the footpath in Nehru Place told us that that they beg for water when they cannot buy it.
Public toilets around Delhi are accessible to men, women and children throughout the day and in the night. They charge Rs 20 for a bath, people told The Wire.
A young woman said that during periods she uses sanitary pads worth Rs 40 that last her one month. She doesn’t use a cloth because she can’t arrange for water to wash the cloth every time. Two other women said that they are not comfortable using sanitary pads, so they prefer using cloth. They use community bathrooms to wash them.
The Wire also visited a shelter home in Sant Nagar, south Delhi. Water and sanitation facilities are good inside the shelter home. “An NGO provides reusable cloth-based sanitary napkins to women who live in the shelter home,” one resident told us.
Only those among the homeless who possess an Aadhaar card or a ration card can live in the shelter homes. When asked why most continue to live on the streets, the caretaker of the shelter home said that their facilities can only give the homeless a choice and not force them.
But Paro, a homeless woman whom we met near CP’s central park, said that shelter homes are extremely crowded so they prefer to live on the street.
In his defence, the caretaker of the shelter home said that providing privacy is not the priority of such facilities.
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