4th November 2023, Mumbai: Navi Mumbai is preparing to unveil its inaugural night shelter, a beacon of hope for the destitute and homeless just in time for the festive season of Diwali. The shelter, funded jointly by the state and central governments, is equipped to accommodate up to 100 individuals. Committed to addressing the city’s pressing humanitarian needs, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has outlined plans to establish additional shelters in the future.
A Safe Haven for the Needy
The upcoming night shelter, situated in sector 4, Ghansoli, stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of the state and central governments under the Deen Dayal Anodaya Yojna of the National Urban Development plan. With an investment of approximately ₹2.33 crore, the ground-plus-three structure is designed to provide a safe and comfortable refuge for those in need, complete with essential amenities such as mattresses, blankets, and healthcare services.
Thoughtful Design and Facilities
Carefully planned by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, the night shelter boasts a thoughtful layout across its four floors. The ground floor will house vital facilities including a kitchen, a canteen, a designated space for the physically challenged, and a restroom. Meanwhile, the subsequent floors are equipped with separate areas for men, women, and families, complete with service rooms and necessary amenities. Primary healthcare facilities will also be made readily available for the occupants’ well-being.
A Long-Awaited Solution
With the construction of the shelter initiated back in 2017 and completed in 2019, its purpose underwent a brief alteration during the pandemic, serving as a Covid-19 center. Social activist Nitin Kandhari emphasized the dire consequences of the absence of such shelters, as many individuals were forced to seek refuge under flyovers, leading to unsanitary living conditions. The upcoming shelter in Ghansoli offers a glimmer of hope, especially during harsh weather conditions.
Challenges and Previous Attempts
NMMC’s journey to establish night shelters has not been without obstacles. Previous attempts in Shramik Nagar and Turbhe faced challenges due to their locations, resulting in inconvenience for the residents and objections from the local communities. Instances of disturbance and misconduct prompted the closure of one such facility, highlighting the significance of strategic planning and community integration in providing support for the homeless.
Future Endeavors and Compliance
As the city continues to expand, NMMC is actively seeking approval for the construction of another shelter in sector 2, Koparkhairane. With the population exceeding five lakh people, the establishment of night shelters is not only a humanitarian imperative but also a legal mandate enforced by a Supreme Court order. The upcoming Diwali marks the commencement of a new chapter in Navi Mumbai’s commitment to the welfare of its vulnerable residents.
The Inauguration of Navi Mumbai’s first night shelter symbolizes a collective effort to address the needs of the homeless and destitute. As the city takes proactive steps to provide shelter, sustenance, and support, it fosters a sense of inclusivity and empathy, reinforcing the spirit of compassion and community that lies at the heart of the Diwali celebrations. With the promise of more shelters on the horizon, Navi Mumbai is poised to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for its most marginalized residents.
-by Kashvi Gala