The Met office in its monthly report has forecasted that the northern, north-eastern and the central parts of the country might experience two cold spells at the end of this month. During those cold waves the temperatures may go down to as low as 10, 0.8, even 0.6 degrees Celsius, the Met office further informed. This is a scary piece of news for the extreme poor and, especially, the homeless people. However, such cold spells are not an uncommon experience during the winter in this part of the world. But whenever such sudden cold waves strike, it is the extreme poor who suffer the most. In the rural areas the temperature fall is usually more pronounced than in the cities. And if the temperature fall is accompanied by chilly wind, those without warm clothes and living under thatched roofs are among the most unprotected human beings on earth. But when it comes to the case of the homeless and the floating people finding their night shelters under the open sky, the power of words is not enough to describe their situation. Many lying on the city's pavements wrapped in hessian sacks, polythene sheets or whatever they can get near at hand are often found dead in the morning. The luckier ones among them may find shelter on the verandas of government or private buildings and huddle together to pass the harsh chilly winter nights. But this time along with the cold, the pandemic poses yet another threat to these hapless people thus exposed to the elements.
Health experts will be required to advise the government and others concerned not to allow these temporary night shelters of these homeless people to turn into pandemic hotspots. The responsibility of the government, non-government and various philanthropic bodies will, therefore, be twofold. One, they will need to launch a massive drive to procure warm clothes for the extreme poor everywhere in the country with special attention to the condition of the homeless people. Two, to arrange spacious accommodations for the homeless in school buildings, government buildings or any other well-protected shelters that philanthropic bodies or generous private individuals may offer. This would be required to ensure that these people may not have to clump together in search of warmth when temperatures register a sharp fall during the winter nights. Also, gruel kitchens have to be run to feed these hungry homeless people as well as other extreme poor both in the cities and the countryside. So, the Met office's forecast about the cold spells should be a reason for serious concern for all. The government is in a race against time to take necessary preparations for short-lived yet intense spells of winter.
Meanwhile, the government's publicity organs and the media should begin a campaign asking the public to come forward with generous help for humanity in distress. The volunteers should start their activities to collect clothes, food and money from the sympathetic public willing to support the move now. It is important to note here that even if there is no cold snap as predicted by the Met office, the vulnerable groups of people will still need help. For unlike the privileged members of society, the winter is always a time of increased suffering for the destitute and the homeless. The government's readiness will only ensure an early response to the needs of these people in desperate plight.