“There must be somebody with whom you are not at war,” the Delhi High Court told the Delhi government while pulling it up over the pending salaries of sanitation employees of the city’s municipal bodies. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also directed the striking sanitation employees not to obstruct cleaning of garbage as they caused serious diseases like dengue.
“Don’t bring such cases to us in courts. There must be somebody with whom you (Delhi government) are not at war. Be it the Union of India, MCDs or NDMC. If you have public interest in mind, then you will ensure that the MCDs do their job properly,” the bench said. To this, Delhi government standing counsel said the government was serious about the issue.
The bench was a hearing a plea seeking a direction to the authorities to ensure that the workers of East and North Delhi Municipal Corporations call off their strike, which started on October 11 and October 16 respectively, and resume work. It directed that no safai karamchari shall obstruct those workers who are willing to carry out their assigned duties.
“Safai karamchari shall ensure that they seriously carry out the assigned duties of MCDs and no obstruction shall be caused,” the bench said.
It said the failure to remove garbage and clean the dhalaos (dumps) have major repurcussions like direct connection with breeding of disease-bearing mosquito larvae leading to serious diseases like dengue and chikungunya. “Therefore, there can be no stoppage of essential work of cleaning and removal of garbage. Doing so imperils lives of public at large,” the bench said.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on October 25. During the hearing, central government standing counsel Monika Arora said there were some safai karamcharis who were creating problems and refusing to discharge their duties and also stopping others from doing work.
She said due to this, garbage was accumulating on roads having adverse impact on the health of the residents. The court had earlier on October 13 asked the AAP government to release within three days the arrears of sanitation workers of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), who are on indefinite strike since October 11.
It had said the authorities should release the arrears in three days after it was told that inspite of assurances given by the government, their outstanding payment has not been made since 2003.
The court was hearing a plea by one Rahul Birla, who had sought a direction to the government and the EDMC to make immediate payment of the arrears.
Advocate Niraj Gupta, appearing for the petitioner, had urged the court to direct the EDMC to issue medical cashless cards to its sanitation workers.
The plea has also sought direction to the authorities to immediately implement the recommendations of the 4th Finance Commission. The plea has said the workers of all the three MCDs had also gone on strike in January 2015, October 2015 and January 2016, which had worsened the sanitary conditions in the capital creating an imminent risk of outbreak of diseases.
It has said the strike had resulted in accumulation of garbage for a number of days at different places, with stink emanating from garbage dumps, making the lives of the people pathetic and miserable. Scores of the EDMC sanitation workers, who are demanding payment of salaries due to them, clearance of arrears and medical cashless card, went on strike.
The EDMC, one of the three civic bodies created in 2012 after the trifurcation of the erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), has been cash-strapped for a long time now.