The national capital is facing a massive garbage problem following an indefinite strike by the MCD sanitation workers. On strike since January 27, they are demanding regular salaries, payment of long pending arrears, health cards, regularisation of contract-based workers and unification of three municipal corporations. East and South Delhi are worst hit with piles of garbage lying on the main roads and even on the arterial roads of the residential colonies.
The issue has led to a political blame-game between the BJP – ruling the Centre — and AAP – running the state government.
With no quick resolution in sight, the Delhi government said it will soon announce a plan for lifting the waste, asserting it will not let people in the national capital live amid piles of rubbish.
According to reports, Delhi government is planning to take the help of the volunteers of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to clear out the garbage. A helpline may also be launched to facilitate the lifting of the waste.
“The BJP-led MCD is not capable of clearing the garbage and we will not allow the heaps of garbage in Delhi. We will soon come out with a detailed plan for lifting the piles of waste across the city,” Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra told the press.
The minister in Arvind Kejriwal government has also accused the BJP-led civic bodies of engaging in what he termed a ‘salary scam’ due to which they have not been able to pay the sanitation workers despite Delhi government having released money for that purpose.
“Where is the money given by Delhi government for the payment of salaries of sanitation workers? Delhi Development Authority (DDA) owes around Rs 1,500 crore to the municipal corporations, but mayors are not demanding that money,” Mishra claimed.
With protest only escalating, there are reports of striking sanitation workers dumping garbage outside the residence of Transport Minister Gopal Rai and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia as they demanded “immediate” release of funds for the payment of their salary.
“We demand that the Chief Minister pay our salary first and later settle scores with the municipal corporations,” said Sanjay Gehlot, president of Swatantra Mazdoor Vikas Sanyukt Morcha.
In an alarming development, senior doctors, nurses, paramedical staff working under the three municipal corporations as well as private hospitals too announced to go on strike in solidarity with the sanitation workers’ agitation in the national capital from Saturday.
“The strike by the United Front will be joined by the doctors, nurses and para medical staff of hospitals, polyclinics and dispensaries from tomorrow,” Rajendra Mewati, President, United Front of MCD Employees, said.
Municipal Corporation Doctors Association has given a notice to the Commissioner of North Delhi announcing their decision to join the strike under the banner of United Front of MCD Employees.
While the BJP, which rules the three civic bodies, accused the AAP-led state government of failing to “discharge responsibilities” and urged Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to rise above “party politics”.
In an ‘open letter’ to the Chief Minister, Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay asked the CM to release Rs 3,000 crores to the three municipal corporations as per recommendations of 3rd Delhi Finance Commission (DFC).
“Delhi government must know the municipal corporations spend their fund not just on the pay and allowances but they also look into health services, primary education, midday meal, sanitation which come to about Rs 5,000 crore per annum,” Upadhyay said.
On the other hand, Congress party, which ruled the state for three full terms till November 2013 has accused both the AAP and BJP for the whole situation.
“For the first time since Independence, Delhi is facing such a pathetic condition due to the fight between AAP government and BJP led central government,” Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken said.
“Both AAP government in Delhi and BJP government at the Centre have failed to take any step to end the strike causing suffering to the people faced with mounting garbage heaps in the national capital,” Maken added.
(With inputs from the PTI)