Pavement Dwellers Freeze to Death

Not enough shelters for homeless in Allahabad, U.P.

Due to tough winters in Northern India, many who could not protect themselves from the freezing cold have died during their sleep. Allahabad is one of the most populated and prosperous cities of Northern India. Many Indians move to the city to find work as daily wage labourers for menial labour. With irregular low-income they do not have the means to afford a permanent place to stay and they are forced to sleep out in the open. As the winters in the North are generally very cold, sleeping on the ground with little or no protection is a serious threat to life. This year the temperatures dropped to a minimum of 2 Celsius during the night, which cost many pavement dwellers their lives.

Our IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Ajeet Bahadur is concerned as he finds many people sleeping on the pavements in Alahabad. “They are afraid of the cold, but do not have the means to protect themselves”, Ajeet says. Speaking to people sleeping on the streets he finds out that too little has been done by the local government to protect their basic human right to livelihood and life.

Securing the basic human rights of underprivilaged communities in the future urban development for alternative housing of low-income groups is very important in these regions. The local government is aware of the need to give this vulnerable community a shelter, especially during the winters. Keeping this in mind, staying shelters for immigrants have been implemented by the Municipal Cooperation of Allahabad. Here each person gets a tin roof, a mattress and a blanket for the night.

Ajeet finds that many people who managed to avail of this opportunity feel that the shelters and blankets saved their lives from the cold. But these shelters can not accommodate everyone as the spaces are too small and too few. The shelters themselves are overcrowded and lack basic facilities, like toilets and running water. Hence the accommodation quickly becomes unhygienic and unliveable. And people return to sleep on the side-walks again.

Our Correspondent Ajeet Bahadur therefore requests the local government to change this situation quickly: “There is a urgent need to build more shelters that can accommodate all the people to assure them their basic human right to life.”

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