BJP, AAP govt spar over deaths of homeless people in Delhi during winter

BJP accuses #Delhi govt of "callous" attitude, while AAP alleges that DDA repeatedly renders people homeless by displacing them.

Representative image of smog during winter (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image of smog during winter (photo: National Herald archives)


The BJP and AAP government indulged in a war of words on Friday after the saffron party alleged that 203 homeless people have died in the city this winter so far and demanded that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal speak on the issue in the House.

The issue resonated inside the Delhi Assembly and even outside it. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cited a report from Delhi Police, which said during the past month, 203 homeless people have died on the streets of the national capital.

Hitting back, Delhi Urban Development minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the photos (of the deceased) are from November when winter was yet to begin here.

"Also, these photos clearly show marks of serious injuries, which proves that they were either killed in accidents or were murdered," Bharadwaj said after the House proceedings were adjourned for the day.

After the Delhi Assembly resumed post-lunch, a short-duration discussion under Rule 55 commenced during which it was alleged that the BJP was obstructing the regularisation of the sanitation workers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri gave a notice for a calling-attention motion on the alleged death of 203 homeless people in Delhi during the ongoing winter season.

"We demand that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal provide answers on the issue in the House," Bidhuri said.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel rejected the calling-attention motion given by Bidhuri and said he would look into the Delhi Police report and then take a decision. He directed that the BJP MLAs be marshalled out after they refused to back down in their demand.

Bidhuri also alleged that 12 notices were given by BJP MLAs on issues faced by the people of Delhi but not one was accepted for discussion.

Later in a statement, Bidhuri said the police report covers the data from November 13 to December 13.

"The Delhi government is unwilling to discuss any issue concerning the public, and it is not holding itself accountable for the deaths of 203 people in Delhi," he said.

Bidhuri demanded that the Delhi chief minister be summoned to the assembly to give a statement on this matter.

Addressing a press conference, Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva, said due to the "callous" attitude and "neglect" of the Delhi government and its DUSIB department, hundreds of homeless people die every year in Delhi due to cold.

"Every year, despite repeated rebuke from the court and reports in the newspapers, the Delhi government is not providing adequate funds for food to the night shelters here," Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva said the Delhi government's Winter Action Plan requires the authorities to provide the homeless with a safe place so that they do not get sick in the cold. However, due to the negligence of the Kejriwal government, it is already December 15 and 90 per cent of the permanent and temporary night shelters here are in bad condition.

Responding to the allegations, Bharadwaj accused the BJP of misleading the country by speaking lies.

"Whoever lives in Delhi, knows that our sweaters have come out just a week ago. I have been saying for the past year that the BJP, through organizations like DDA, Railways, and ASI, renders thousands homeless in Delhi. Recently the Central government's Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) near Tughlaqabad Fort displaced thousands of poor people without considering what would happen to them in the harsh winter," he told reporters.

Before demolishing any house, there is a rule that alternative arrangements have to be made, but the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) repeatedly renders people homeless, the minister alleged.

He stressed that the government has made adequate arrangements for winter under its Winter Action Plan that started on December 1.

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