BMC launches toll-free helpline number, aims to make them self-reliant
Geetanjali Minhas | October 10, 2021 | Mumbai
On the occasion of World Homeless Day, BMC has announced that it is formulating a policy for the urban homeless for which it will start a survey soon. The policy will include efforts to provide temporary shelter to homeless people, make them self-reliant, capable and help them regain a dignified place in society.
Starting Monday, October 11, the BMC is launching a toll-free helpline number, 1800227501, for helping urban homeless persons. The helpline will be operational from10 am to 5 pm.
While BMC has been running homeless shelter centres at different places, a formal policy will provide the way ahead. The civic body will conduct a survey at railway stations, bus stands, markets, places of worship, etc. within the BMC area for coming out with the policy document. Citizens and organizations working for welfare of the homeless can contact the toll-free number and provide information.
At present BMC has 12 shelter centres for urban homeless adults in Mumbai. Against total capacity of 342 there are 239 homeless living in these centres at present. For urban homeless children under the age of 18 in the Mumbai, there are 11 shelters with 488 children at present. Total capacity of all these shelters is 590 children.
Every year during monsoon, between June 1 and October 31, the civic body sets up additional homeless shelters. At present Mumbai has 2 such centres with capacity of 930persons. These shelters are run by different organizations for their proper management and funded under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - National Urban Livelihood Campaign. The organisations are coordinated and supervised by the social development officers (planning) of the respective departments of BMC.
BMC will now will make four additional centres operational at Chandivali, Dahisar, Andheri and Govandi. At Mhada Vasahat, Sector D, Mahul, 224 rooms will be provided to accommodate about 1,500 persons and a skills training centre be started to make them self- reliant. BMC is organising various camps for citizens living in the homeless shelters to provide them with government identity cards like PAN card, Aadhar card etc and eligible citizens residing in these homeless shelters are also being vaccinated against Covid-19.
An awareness campaign on different welfare schemes for homeless is on by putting up billboards outside railway stations and in public places using audio-visual media and social media. BMC has organised cultural activities and conduct health check-ups and provide masks and sanitizers to homeless to boost their morale.
Last month the Bombay high court directed the union and Maharashtra governments as well as civic bodies to take steps for vaccinating mentally ill homeless persons who cannot make an informed decision and give their consent for vaccination as they could be a ‘threat to society’ in the spread of Covid-19. The court said that the authorities should frame a proper policy to vaccinate mentally ill homeless persons and to inform it about the steps taken to locate and identify such needy persons and measures taken to reach out to inoculate them.
The court also asked the BMC to file an affidavit stating the number of mentally ill persons identified for Covid-19 vaccination and the number of those who had been vaccinated.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh representing the centre had said that the concerns about an informed decision on behalf of mentally ill homeless persons can be dealt with by the local authority by shifting them to shelter homes or concerned institutions which can certify them for vaccination.
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