Enough workforce, yet Delhi remains smothered in garbage, says High Court

Underscoring the importance of public participation and creating awareness in the face of “little being done by the corporations,” the bench said a nodal agency is required to solve the issue.

Written by Manish Raj | New Delhi | Published:June 29, 2017 5:22 am

“The culture of not doing duty should end,” the Delhi High Court said on Wednesday while directing civic bodies to undertake various measures to address the issue of garbage disposal which, in turn, has resulted in the spread of vector-borne diseases. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said there should be both short-term measures and a long-term action plan. Elaborating on the measures, the court said a location and time-wise work roster, as well as the identity of each cleaning staff or safai karamchaari, should be put up on the website of the corporations. The court also suggested that these details be put up at the site which a worker is assigned.

The bench noted that the EDMC has 50,000 safai karamcharis and 370 dhalao for a 105 sq km area, the SDMC has under its jurisdiction 650 sq km and 23,000 staff and the North municipal body has 26,000 workers for a 600 sq km area. “Despite this huge working force, Delhi remains smothered in garbage and sewage,” the bench said, adding, “It is trite to say that payment is made to employees only against the work done.” On the issue of delay in payments to cleaning staff, the bench said that Class IV employees should be paid first.

The bench also pointed out that insufficient penal action is being taken against people who were found littering. “Place the littering magistrates (deputed to penalise offenders) with video cameras at the dhalaos,” said the bench. It also suggested that a single offender could be made to stand on the road, and after several offenders were caught, they could be collectively fined.

Underscoring the importance of public participation and creating awareness in the face of “little being done by the corporations,” the bench said a nodal agency is required to solve the issue. It then directed the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) to design and implement an awareness programme. Nominees from the MCDs, not below the rank of deputy commissioner, besides environmentalists such as M C Mehta and Sunita Narain, could be included in the programme, the bench said.

Meanwhile, the counsel for the Delhi government said the central government has not followed the recommendations of the Fourth Finance Commission and that there was lack of funds in each of the municipal bodies. He said, “Despite generating 14 per cent of the entire country’s direct taxes — which stands at Rs 91,247 crore — the allocation of funds from the Centre remained pegged at Rs 325 crore.”

After the bench asked about the steps the Centre has taken, the Central government standing counsel said he would take instructions from the finance ministry.

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