The BMC approved a proposal on Friday for building a one lakh square feet cow shelter in the city. Only two days before this extremely cow- friendly move, the BMC was up in front of the Bombay High Court Division bench of Justices A S Oka and V L Achiliya expressed complete helplessness at providing 50 sq feet space in homeless shelters per person owing to the well- known space crunch in the city of Mumbai. What the BMC has proposed to offer the homeless in the city is a meager 10 square feet of space to sleep at night. While the BMC has identified the plight of cows in the city and approved the proposal for cow shelters without even a basic count of the number of cows, the plight of the homeless in the city remain unacknowledged.
A PIL by the Homeless Collective seeking shelters for the homeless has been on-going for over two years in the Bombay High Court. Despite having the Census 2011 homeless population figures, NULM shelter for Urban Homeless guidelines and a fund of rupees 160 crores by the Centre, the city of Mumbai till date has homeless shelters accommodating only around 200 people, mostly children, in comparison to the at least 57,000 who sleep on the streets. In reply to an RTI filed, it has been confirmed that the BMC has been given rupees 70 crores by the State Government of Maharashtra to build homeless shelters and the BMC has not used a single penny to this end. Recently, a homeless community of over 40 people including children and pregnant women were evicted by the BMC from under the Matunga King Circle Flyover under the Swachhta Mission, leaving the community on the street in the chilly winter nights.
The move to build shelters for cows and the apathy for the shelter less humans in the city by the BMC sums up its priorities with regard to shaping the future of the city. Cows deserve shelters, all animals do. The future of the most vulnerable in our cities seems to be going from bad to worse. . Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana promises Housing for all by the year 2022. While in Mumbai cows get shelter and thousands of homeless in the city spend sleepless nights fearing evictions and cleanliness drives by the BMC, risk being run over by cars and braving the winters.
For further information please call,
Pooja Yadav, YUVA &Homeless Collective 9769567439