LAHORE: The government has decided to establish shelter homes in major public and district headquarter (DHQs) hospitals across Punjab. This decision was taken during a meeting on Saturday to review progress on the establishment of shelter homes in Lahore. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar. Also present were Punjab ministers, the chief secretary, the deputy commissioner and business community leaders. Addressing meeting participants, Prime Minister Khan said it was the responsibility of the state to care for the downtrodden segments of society. “It is also a duty of philanthropists to support the underprivileged strata of the society,” he maintained. It was also decided in the meeting that the government would establish new shelter homes in five big hospitals of the provincial capital in the first phase of the project. A five-member board was also constituted, under the chairmanship of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) group leader Gohar Ejaz, for the development of
shelter homes in public hospitals in provincial capital. On the occasion, the prime minister was briefed about the progress of this initiative. A day before this meeting, Buzdar took a detailed briefing on the ongoing development activities for the shelter homes. He directed the Punjab Health Secretary to identity suitable places in public hospitals for construction.
These new shelter homes will be constructed to provide better living facilities for patients’ attendants who cannot afford expensive lodging expenditures. The Punjab chief minister said the government would welcome philanthropists’ cooperation for the construction of shelter homes at public hospitals. Buzdar also indicated that the five under-construction shelter homes in the provincial capital will be linked
to the nearest public hospitals to provide secure lodging facilities for poor patient’s attendants. “The construction of shelter homes for the poor segment of society has also been made mandatory for new public hospital projects,” he added. The government has already constituted the Punjab Shelter Homes Authority and the draft act of the authority has also been prepared. Soon, the government will form regional boards for implementation of the project. Development works of three shelter homes had already entered their finishing stages. The government has aimed to make the Lahore Railway Station, Data Darbar and Vegetable Market shelter homes operational by mid-April. The Punjab CM also issued orders to establish dispensaries at all the five shelter homes currently being constructed in the provincial capital. After coming into power, Prime Minister Khan initiated this as his first public welfare project in Punjab. The local administration had established temporary shelter homes at five places in tents. So far over 15,000 homeless people, labourers and passengers have benefited from these makeshift structures.
The district administration, in collaboration with other government agencies like the Punjab Social Welfare Department, Civil Defence and Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC), is providing a clean and homely environment for poor residents of these shelter homes. Free food and medical facilities are also being provided to residents. Available data shows that the provincial capital is a city of over 11 million people, including around
200,000 homeless souls, who have to spend their nights on footpaths, greenbelts and parks; even in harsh weather. Thousands of labourers, who visit the metropolis from adjoining cities and districts to explore employment opportunities, also have to spend their nights under open skies if they are unable to find suitable work. However, following the establishment of these makeshift shelter homes, the miseries of these unfortunate people have reduced slightly.
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