New Delhi – As midnight approaches in New Delhi and freezing fog rolls over the Indian capital, thousands of homeless people spread ripped mattresses and blankets on the sidewalks and lie on them to keep themselves warm.
Those who can’t afford blankets spend the night around smoldering fires made out of garbage and discarded cardboard boxes. Others are hiding out in government shelter systems.
The scene repeats itself each year as the Indian capital suffers from a bitter winter cold, leaving dozens of homeless dead and tens of thousands of people condemned to shivering in the streets.
New Delhi hit a record low of 5.5 degrees Celsius (41.9 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday, and the Indian weather agency warned of a severe cold spell starting Monday.
New Delhi’s 20 million inhabitants are exposed to a variety of extreme weather events, from blistering heat waves in the summer to a thick gray smog that blankets the capital before winter sets in as brutal cold snaps ravage much of northern India. I’m here. Frosty fog blankets the streets in the cold weather, blinding drivers to the cars in front of them and causing accidents.
The piercing cold is an ordeal for the city’s homeless. They curl up on the sidewalk and sleep as cars pass by. City night shelters provide refuge for many sleeping near busy ring roads and underpasses, but most live in harsh conditions. Many night shelters are overcrowded, with dirty toilets and no running water.
“Overcrowding is a big problem.
About 47,000 city dwellers were homeless, according to India’s 2011 census, but activists say the number is vastly underestimated, and New Delhi has a large population of non-permanent residents. He said there are more than 150,000.
According to official statistics, the city’s 195 homeless shelters can accommodate only about 19,000 people, and tens of thousands struggle to keep warm.