According to Brijesh Arya, convenor of Collective for Homeless, while the census of 2011 puts the number of homeless people in Mumbai to 57,416 and nearly one lakh in Maharashtra, the actual numbers are much higher, with Mumbai having approximately two lakh.
Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is gearing up to provide ‘distress meals’ to thousands of homeless and destitute who will be left to fend for themselves as the lockdown continues amidst the outbreak of COVID-19.
All zonal headquarters of IRCTC were asked to make provisions to make basic meals available in bulk across various areas of their respective zones. These distress meals are likely to include simple foods such as dal khichdi with pickle, while certain other areas are working towards providing Swaminarayan khichdi. Officials are working on providing bulk meals to close to 3,000 to 5,000 people in one go through various base stations.
According to Brijesh Arya, convenor of Collective for Homeless, while the census of 2011 puts the number of homeless people in Mumbai to 57,416 and nearly one lakh in Maharashtra, the actual numbers are much higher, with Mumbai having approximately two lakh. “Our own movement is restricted, but we would like to work with the government to help them identify where these homeless people live and provide for them,” Arya said.
“Our biggest challenge is mobilising of manpower, as under this strict curfew, our staff is not recognised as essential services, and their movement is not possible,” an official of IRCTC said.
IRCTC works with its own staff, as well as several other contractual workers, that are currently experiencing difficulty in movement. With train services suspended, several daily wage workers have been left to fend for themselves, with no jobs available. Many gathered outside temples and other religious places, as well as restaurants, for food, as they have alternate means to get basic meals. Arya said the city has homeless people who live along and those with families, both of which have been massively hit.
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