Helping hands spread warmth among Agra poor

By Brij Khandelwal, IANS,

Agra : With the winter chill setting in, helpful souls in the Taj city have begun setting up night shelters for the poor, complete with bonfires, quilts and morning tea.

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Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa, which provides drinking water for pedestrians through its network of water huts in the summer months, has opened three night shelters on MG Road.

Bankey Lal Maheshwari, chief of the voluntary group, told IANS: “The poor and the homeless have no place to go and are left to fend for themselves in these chilly nights. We have therefore opened three shelters for them on the main MG Road. Three more would be opened shortly.

“At our shelters, there are bonfire, fresh quilts, mattresses and pillows. We also have provision for morning tea and some gur-chana (jaggery and grams).”

As the mercury drops and fog envelopes the city in the evenings, many homeless rush to the nearest shelter put up by the group.

Maheshwari said they have been engaged in social service for the past 30 years with public support.

The Agra Municipal Corporation is also gearing up to run at least three shelters.

Other service clubs like Ganesh Sewa too have announced plans to open shelters for the poor as winter advances.

While the minimum temperature these days is hovering around 11 degrees Celsius, the mercury plummets to as low as one degree in early January.

Being a major trading centre of agricultural produce and a hub of medical services, a large number of people come to Agra from the vast rural hinterland every day.

“Some do not have the resources, others miss the bus or train and are left to look for night shelters,” Maheshwari said.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at [email protected])