The data released by the zonal integrated police network under the union ministry, shows that 33,518 homeless people died in Delhi between January 2004 and October 2015.
This means roughly 9 homeless people die on the streets of the national capital daily. For those forced to live under the open sky, the maximum deaths were reported in June as 3,695 destitutes died in this particular month during these years.
Sunil Kumar Aledia of the Centre for Holistic Development, which tabulated the data, said paucity of night shelters was one of the major reasons for the high number of deaths.
"There are nearly 150,000 homeless people in Delhi, of which only 4,890 get shelter. This is a mere 3.2 percent of the homeless population in the capital city. The rest are left to fend for themselves squeezed into limited spaces available otherwise, running the risk of contracting diseases. They often sleep on the roadside that increases the chances of accidents," Aledia said.
"Not to talk of the people living on the roads, even those living in shelter homes do not get basic facilities there, which makes them prone to several fatal diseases. The shelter space is deficient by 87.4 percent of the Delhi Master Plan-2021 norms," he said.
The National Urban Livelihood Mission's Scheme for Shelters for the Urban Homeless (NULM-SUH) talks of providing 50 square feet of space per person.
Going by the NULM-SUH guidelines, only 4,890 people can be accommodated in the available space, though DUSIB claims to cater to 25,000 people by making available 9.7 square feet of space per person in the shelters, Aledia added. "This is way below the norm. In 9.7 sq.ft., one has to sit and sleep," he said.
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal recently made surprise visits at a few shelters and came across several anomalies in their functioning.
Maliwal, along with DCW member Sarika Chaudhary and two volunteers, visited three night shelters run by DUSIB in Nizamuddin and Jama Masjid areas.
"I have written to the director of night shelter, DUSIB, T.K. Meena regarding the anomalies and asked for a detailed point-wise status report, including steps to be taken to improve the situation," Maliwal said.