ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Understanding the Skills and Livelihood Aspirations of the Working Homeless Men of Yamuna Pushta

Delhi’s homeless migrants work daily wage jobs that provide temporary housing on worksites, but they often endure abuse from their contractors and employers and receive low to no wages. The city’s approximately 200 shelters allot 18 square feet per resident, which is far below the National Urban Livelihoods Mission’s Scheme of Shelters for Urban Homeless guideline of 50 square feet per person. Labourers in Yamuna Pushta use congested shelters because the nearby jobs determine their survival. In this context, the homeless labourers’ working and shelter conditions, the skills they possess, and the barriers they face to decent working conditions are examined.

This paper was selected for the 2021 Urban ARC, the annual research conference of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, organised virtually from 14 to 16 January 2021. The authors presented the paper findings virtually on 16 January 2021.

The survey conducted for this paper was funded by the International Development Research Centre in 2015 when both authors were with Centre for Equity Studies. Interviews of individual homeless men quoted throughout this paper were made possible by funding provided to the Centre for Policy Research by the Indian Council on Social Science Research between 2017 and 2019, when Ashwin Parulkar was with the Centre for Policy Research. The authors are grateful to each of the institutions involved for making this work possible. The authors also thank the anonymous referee for their invaluable suggestions and comments in the finalisation of this paper.

By sunset, central Delhi’s “Pushta”—the 1.8 kilometre stretch from Nigambodh Ghat to Kashmere Gate along the Yamuna riverbank—is a parallel city. It belongs to homeless men who populate the area’s low crenellated brick walls, barren knolls, footbridge and footpaths, underpasses, and, 20-plus portakabin government night shelters.

How do these men survive the city without housing? Why do they live here? They are, largely, migrant labourers who rely on daily wage gigs at catering company-managed wedding events (shaadi parties in local parlance), on construction sites (beldari ka kam), and in roadside eateries (dhabas). The worksites are in Delhi and other states, such as Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab. However, the journey for many begins in the Pushta, where contractors hire daily wage migrant workers at numerous local labour chowks.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 200.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 12.00

(Readers outside India)

Updated On : 23rd Oct, 2021
Back to Top