Visakhapatnam: With the entire country in lockdown mode, beggars and destitute persons are languishing near railway stations, bus stops and temples in this city unable to get alms or food.
Though there are night shelters for homeless persons in each district of Andhra Pradesh, most beggars are unaware of them. In Vizag, where there are eight such shelters, beggars and destitute persons are seen sleeping on footpaths starving.
Some NGOs have been trying to supply food to them but the police are discouraging their volunteers from moving around.
The Association for Urban and Tribal Development Corporation (AUTDC) runs three night shelters – two at TSR Complex and another in Bheemnagar near Allipuram. The shelter at TSR Complex is the bigger one with a capacity to accommodate 100 persons; the latter can shelter 70 inmates.
The NGO’s secretary Pragada Vasu, who maintains these shelters with a team of 12 members, said the inmates are provided food three times a day supported by funds provided by the government and other NGOs. “We were trying to distribute food to homeless persons but we were intercepted by the police several times.”
There are several voluntary organisations in Visakhapatnam that are ready to provide food to needy people at railway stations and bus stands but they are deterred by the menacing profile adopted by the police ever since the shutdown was announced. The AUTDC secretary urged the district collector to allow them to do the humanitarian work.
Pragada Vasu said his NGO is owed arrears of three months by the government. “Our team works round the clock in eight-hour shifts at the night shelters. We have been urging the government to clear the dues and provide additional funds to distribute food to homeless people at places like RK Beach and RTC Complex.”
In Vizianagaram district, there are two night shelters: one in the fort town and the other in Parvathipuram. Red Cross Society manager Majji Srinivas said, “In order to maintain social distance, we have sought another building at Puchala Veedhi to accommodate 12 of our 38 inmates. We need bigger space for providing shelter to more persons.”
Apart from these organisations, various NGOs like Hope-giving Society and MyFriends Group are willing to supply food to beggars, migrant workers and street children. However, they have been discouraged during this lockdown. Most of them are ready to bring homeless people to the shelters, but in vain.