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

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Understanding the Skills and Livelihood Aspirations of the Working Homeless Men of Yamuna Pushta

Delhi’s homeless migrants work daily wage jobs that provide temporary housing on worksites, but they often endure abuse from their contractors and employers and receive low to no wages. The city’s approximately 200 shelters allot 18 square feet per resident, which is far below the National Urban Livelihoods Mission’s Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless guideline of 50 square feet per person. Labourers in Yamuna Pushta use congested shelters because the nearby jobs determine their survival. In this context, the homeless labourers’ working and shelter conditions, the skills they possess, and the barriers they face to decent working conditions are examined.

By sunset, central Delhi’s “Pushta”—the 1.8 kilometre stretch from Nigambodh Ghat to Kashmere Gate along the Yamuna riverbank—is a parallel city. It belongs to homeless men who populate the area’s low crenellated brick walls, barren knolls, footbridge and footpaths, underpasses, and, 20-plus portakabin government night shelters.

How do these men survive the city without housing? Why do they live here? They are, largely, migrant labourers who rely on daily wage gigs at catering company-managed wedding events (shaadi parties in local parlance), on construction sites (beldari ka kam), and in roadside eateries (dhabas). The worksites are in Delhi and other states, such as Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab. However, the journey for many begins in the Pushta, where contractors hire daily wage migrant workers at numerous local labour chowks.

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Updated On : 23rd Oct, 2021
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