Some people are being unfair to the municipal corporation by saying that it is not interested in pavement dwellers and is keen on driving them out of their homes. Actually, municipal officials are as concerned as other champions of the homeless that the pavement dwellers should be provided with alternate accommodation which is in keeping with the standards of their present residences.
Senior municipal officials are interviewing each and every pavement dweller to find out what sort on an alternate accommodation he would like to have. I was present at one of these interviews.
The man of the house was lying on the footpath, reading a newspaper. His wife was cooking in a BEST bus shelter, which was a part of their home. The children were playing between the legs of the pedestrians.
The official asked if he could enter the house and discuss with him proposals for alternate accommodation. "You are always welcome to my humble abode," the pavement-dweller said, pushing aside a man who was waiting on the pavement for somebody and making room for the official to sit down.
The official said. "The municipal corporation, as you must have read in the papers, would be grateful if you will accept new accommodation from it as a special Diwali gift."
The pavement dweller looked at him, suspiciously, then said. "It all depends on the location of the accommodation. It should be near my place of work, otherwise it is out."
But of course, it will be in walking distance of you place of work, the official said. "And if it is not, the corporation will provide you with a railway pass."
"What about the neighborhood?" the pavement dweller asked. "You can see I have got little children, I don't want to bring them up in a wrong locality where they come under the influence of all sorts of bad character."
"All the corporation's projects for new accommodation are in respectable localities," the official assured him.
The pavement dweller went to a public hydrant, washed his hands then came back and said. "I don't want to appears pushy, but I would like to know if there will be water available 24 hours. My wife is so used to 24 hours water from this hydrant here except when there is a fire in the neighborhood, that she will not have anything less now."
The official said. "It is the corporation's endeavour to provide all citizens with 24 hours water. If we cannot do that for you we will install water storage tanks."
The pavement dweller said: "I hope the carpet area will be commensurate with this place. As you can see, over here I have half of this pavement and a part of the road beyond the pavement and the bus stop of course."
"We will try and provide you some thing equally large," the official said. "Now then can we send a municipal truck to shift you to the new accommodation on November I."
"Certainly," said the pavement dweller." But there is one small request. I would like to retain this space for a relative who is coming from the village next month."