Good Samaritans bring warmth to Agra’s shelterless


Agra: A healthy rivalry among social workers and voluntary agencies has helped set up a dozen night shelters for the poor and the homeless in this city of the Taj.

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The Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa’s “Raen Basera” was the latest to open Friday afternoon near the new Shoe Mandi complex. A large number of people turned up for the opening, promising all help – from quilts to cow-dung cakes to keep bonfires going at night.

Bankey Lal Maheshwari, who runs a network of night shelters and water huts in Agra, said one more will come up on the MG Road in addition to the six already running. “The attendance is very good this year because of the intense cold,” he said.

Ganesh Nishulk Sewa, another voluntary group, has also set up night shelters at the main road-crossings. D.D. Singhal, who runs the group, said a local media house (Amar Ujala) is supporting it in this venture.

The Agra Municipal Corporation has arranged for bonfires at main road-crossings.

State government agencies have also started distributing blankets to the shelters. Help Agra ambulances are on the lookout for anyone “sitting out there in the cold without warm clothes”.

“An old man was last night picked up from the main road and put up in a night shelter,” said Mukesh Jain, who supports a fleet of ambulances for the commoners at affordable rates.

“This indeed is a happy situation. The city now has many such groups and we are seeing greater sensitivity and concern for the old and the poor,” remarked Lala Babu Rama Shankar), an elected member of the Agra Cantonment Board.