LAHORE     -   More than quarter of a million (252042) passengers and homeless people availed facilities offered by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf’s flagship project Panahgahs (Shelter Homes) for poor and vulnerable class, located in city’s five crowded  areas since November 24.

Had these places not been there, these people would have spent millions from their own pockets or spent nights on footpaths. Prime Minister Imran Khan along with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar inaugurated Panahgah project in November last year.

In phase I, Punjab Social Welfare and Baitul Mal department set up the temporary shelter home near Hazrat Ali Hajveri’s shrine, Railways Station and Thokar Niaz Baig. In the meantime, Lahore Development Authority started construction of permanent shelter buildings.

A Board of Directors runs the shelter homes project on a Public Private Partnership model. Punjab government is responsible for the infrastructure of shelter homes while the philanthropists maintain availability of breakfast and dinner. 

Welfare Department Secretary Ambreen Raza told The Nation the response to shelter homes was commendable and the team of social welfare department was on their toes to provide facilities to people who could not afford them.

 “Our domain is only to facilitate passengers and homeless people a one-night stay and two meals. These buildings are not for permanent stay. You could see many homeless people sleeping on streets and elsewhere in the city. For them, Prime Minister Imran Khan started another scheme Naya Pakistan Housing Program,” she explained.

 “A large number of people only come to eat two times meals and not for sleeping because of poverty,” the secretary said. 

 “It is a positive development that other cities in Punjab also set up shelter homes own their own following the Lahore’s panahgahs project. Health Department also runs their temporary shelter homes in few hospitals to facilitate attendants of patients” she was of the view.

To a query, she responded that all homeless people could not stay permanently in these shelter homes because passengers and homeless people are only allowed to stay for one night.

According to Social Welfare Department, during Eid, the shelter homes also provided meals and stay facility to people.

It is pertinent to note that, district administration which runs these shelter homes, has now decided to appoint a medical team in shelter homes.

A philanthropist on condition of anonymity told this scribe that he felt tranquillity and happiness contributing in expenditures of meals for the poor. “It is between a man and Allah Almighty. I am doing it only for Allah,” he said.

SWD Director Planning Suleman, 99,592 passengers stayed and took breakfast and dinner in Darbar shelter home in last eight months; 32,316 in fruits and vegetables shelter home, 68645 in Railway Station shelter home, 32734 in Lorry Adda shelter home, and 29755 stayed in Thokar Niaz Baig shelter home.