With harsh winter conditions gripping the city and the mercury dropping to around 15 degrees Celsius, residents are scrambling to protect themselves from the cold weather conditions. The homeless and footpath dwellers, on the other hand, suffer the most as they try to avoid the winter chill.
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) operates 14 night shelters in various parts of the city to help the homeless. This is in addition to the seven shelter homes located on the grounds of government hospitals, where the needy can find relief from the effects of falling night temperatures.
According to GHMC officials, these night shelters and shelter homes are nearly full at night with the city’s homeless seeking to spend the night here. More than 1,000 needy people have found shelter as of now, with more expected as temperatures drop further in the coming weeks.
GHMC officials and staff at the night shelters said that the number of people at these facilities has increased since October. The night shelter at Begumpet has a capacity of 45 people, but the occupancy has risen to 60.
Similarly, the night shelter inside Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) has a capacity of 115 people, but over 200 people use it during the winter.
“To accommodate more people at night shelters we have provided extra beds. Temporary arrangements have also been made inside the shelters so that more people use these facilities,” said a GHMC official.
Meanwhile, Jayasri from Sri Education Society, an NGO that takes care of people at the night shelter beneath Begumpet Flyover, said that because of the harsh weather, more homeless people were coming to the facility to sleep.
“We are also identifying and accommodating those involved in seeking alms and staying on the footpaths,” she said.
Indira from Aman Vedika NGO, which takes care of the people at the Malkajgiri night shelter, also stated that, in comparison to the summer and monsoon seasons, more people use the facility during the winter.
The GHMC officials and NGOs serve breakfast and lunch at the majority of these 14 night shelters and ask the occupants to cook their own food during the night.
“We are supplying the inmates with all the raw materials including rice, pulses, edible oil, cooking equipment, etc. We want the inmates to realize the effort that goes into cooking, so we decided not to serve cooked food during the night,” said an official.
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