The Raen basera at Karamtoli Chowk in Ranchi on Saturday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Oct. 5: Guess what’s the newest hangout zone of the capital’s youths? Raen baseras.
Broken walls, lack of amenities and zero maintenance have ensured that the poor and the homeless stay away from these night shelters meant for them.
Instead, people looking for a place to just laze around or perhaps have some adda with friends have been often found to occupy the shelters.
There are as many as eight such “homes” for the poor across the state capital. And all are lying in utter neglect.
A peek into one of these shelters at Karamtoli Chowk bared the apathy of the civic guardians.
A futile attempt has been made to cover up the cracks on the entrance gate with newspapers, while the single-storey structure, with two small rooms, a kitchen, a toilet and a storeroom, is wallowing in dirt and filth.
Even the caretaker of the shelter, Subodh Oraon, does not dare to enter the kitchen and prefers to cook in the veranda.
“Hum log khana bahar banate hain, kyon ki rasoi pura ganda hain (We cook food outside as the kitchen is very dirty),” said Oraon, adding that there was no sweeper to clean up the mess. He added that owing to lack of water and soiled floor, people could not use the bathroom either.
Naturally, even poor rickshaw-pullers and the destitutes do not visit the shelter any more. “There are six beds here, but no one comes to stay,” Oraon rued.
Nevertheless, some local youths are making full use of the facility. “Hum aise hi ghumte huye aa gaye,” said a local resident, Shamsheer, who often visits this shelter for an afternoon nap.
The employees are the worst sufferers. Ganga Ram, who helps Oraon, said they were unable to earn a living. “Earlier, poor people coming from outside used to take rest here by paying Rs 5 a day. Now, they also don’t show up,” Ram said.
The situation is no different at the other centres.
The caretaker of Ratu Road raen basera, Md Izam, said it had become a den of local toughs. “Unscrupulous elements come here at night, whereas the homeless still sleep on streets,” he said.
Both Oraon and Izam said they had informed Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) about poor maintenance of the night shelters, but in vain.
Deputy CEO, RMC, S.K. Lal admitted the lapses but promised to spruce up the shelters before the advent of winter.
“We had handed over the baseras to Sulabh International. It was supposed to maintain them. However, in the absence visitors, caretakers are unable to generate enough money for its maintenance,” he added.