ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Urban 'Invisible'

Governments and civil society have abandoned the urban homeless.

Every year winter brings with it, especially in the northern states of the country, severe cold and dense fog which spread respiratory diseases, mess up transport and kill numerous people who have inadequate protection against the cold. Needless to say, it is the urban homeless and those who are forced to be outdoors for their daily livelihood who are affected the most. In most other seasons too, the homeless suffer the vagaries of nature and an unjust society. India’s urban homeless are predominantly those who have escaped from rural destitution and oppression, and provide all forms of labour to the urban economy without having any protection for their body or dignity.

According to the 2011 Census, India has 9.38 lakh homeless persons in urban areas and 8.34 lakh in rural areas. With 18.56% of the total number of homeless, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has the highest number and proportion, followed by Maharashtra (11.9%) and Rajasthan (10.2%). And, yet, the record of both UP and ­Maharashtra in providing shelter to the homeless has been abysmal. Maharashtra does not have a single functioning shelter for the urban homeless.

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