After facing flak from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) on 9 January denied the reports of people dying in the capital due to the cold.
Shurbir Singh, CEO of DUSIB, who is also the person Arvind Kejriwal had previously lashed out at due to the deaths said: "DUSIB rejects the facts shown by media that 44 people died because of cold in Delhi. No such case has been reported to the board. We have checked and found that not only in cold but also in summers such deaths happen. This is completely unfair to connect with the cold."
Singh further added that other departments under the DUSIB also did not receive anything 'as negative as this report'.
There are a total of 261 night shelters and all are active and all the facilities are available there. Till now, we have given shelters to more than 13,900 people. Our rescue team is completely functioning at night time on the ground and our control room is active at night. If we find any destitute on road we go to him and check if he wants shelter. With this practice, we have reached the number of 13,900.Shurbhir SIngh, CEO, DUSIB
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier slammed Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Monday, 8 January, for deaths due to cold in the national capital.
Kejriwal had said the Lt Governor did not consult the government before appointing the CEO of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), which looks after night-shelters for the homeless in the city.
As per the reports of the Centre for Holistic Development, at least 40,633 homeless people have died in Delhi since 1 January 2004.
The report also claimed that in December 2017 alone, 250 people died on the streets. According to the report, 44 people died in Delhi from 1 January to 6 January, including a two-year-old child.
BJP Questions AAP Over Deaths of Homeless in Delhi
Meanwhile, the BJP questioned the AAP government on 8 January over the deaths of 42 homeless people in Delhi this month, saying that if CM Arvind Kejriwal had taken an interest, their lives could have been saved.
At least 42 homeless people have died in the first one week of January 2018, and this information has been confirmed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari to reporters
He also said that since December, over 250 homeless people have died. Hitting out at the CM for preferring the Rajya Sabha elections and candidates over the homeless, the BJP MP said:
If Kejriwal would have taken more interest in the homeless instead of his Rajya Sabha candidates, then we would not have heard about the deaths.
The BJP leader said, "Let's leave the blame game and do an all-party meeting on how to save the lives of homeless in the city."
Tiwari also said that when he got the news, he went to see the conditions of the homeless in the city at night. "I was shocked to see how people were sleeping with the animals in the Yamuna riverbed and on the streets under the open sky," he said.
He also said that with the help of Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, the BJP arranged a temporary night shelter for over 650 people in the Kashmere Gate area of north Delhi.
As per the Delhi government, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) runs 251 shelters – 83 of them housed in permanent buildings and 113 operating out of porta-cabins. FIfty-five temporary shelters in tents have also been put up for winter.
Late on 6 January, the International Court of Justice Judge Dalveer Bhandari inspected the Delhi government's night shelter in south Delhi's Sarai Kale Khan area. He stressed on the need to set up more such facilities. Bhandari was accompanied by Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain.
(This is a developing story and will be updated.)