The Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), which manages slums in the city, has launched community-based monitoring of its 195-night shelters and public toilets that nearly 2.5 million people use daily.
The monitoring began on Monday ahead of winter when demand for the shelters grows. A centralized control room has been established for complaints over the phone, WhatsApp, text messages, etc. Officials on the field officers have been asked to get the complaints resolved in a time bound manner.
Officials said inmates of the shelters often hesitate to report problems and this new indirect mode of feedback may encourage them to flag problems even as not many among them have mobile phones or access to internet connectivity.
A DUSIB official insisted that lodging complaints over the phone or digitally is not likely to be an issue as nearly 66% of the people living in the Delhi slums use mobile phones as per the 2011 Census.
DUSIB chief executive officer K Mahesh said the agency provides seven basic services, including community toilets and night shelters, to the homeless. He added complaints have also been received from lawmakers about the poor maintenance of toilets. “Therefore, a centralized and integrated control room has been established… [to] receive complaints on the phone number -9871013284…[via] WhatsApp text/audio/video messages, photos, and email. The complaints will be relayed to officials on the field in the 12 divisions to get the problems fixed as soon as possible.”
Director (local bodies) Sanjay Goel inaugurated the control room. Mahesh said it will be functional round the clock and is manned by a team of eight officials under the supervision of a director-level officer.
DUSIB has introduced a compliance monitoring mechanism as well to ensure that complaints are acted upon. “The engineer concerned after taking necessary remedial action as per the given timelines shall upload time-stamped and geo-tagged pictures to show compliance,” said Mahesh.
The number of people using night shelters increases from nearly 7,000 to 12,000 between November 15 and March 15 every year. The DUSIB releases an action plan to ensure shelters for the homeless in winter. It has established up to 300 tents at 80 locations as temporary shelters.