On a narrow road in front of Aster Public School in Mayur Vihar Phase I, trash was found overflowing nearly 15 to 20 metres outside the walls of the garbage dump. No stranger to eyes turning away in disgust and hands reaching up to the nose, the pit exemplified the ordeal that residents of the area have endured over the past week, as sanitation workers of the East and North corporations have been on strike.
On the morning of the eighth day of the strike, the heap continued to grow with residents from the area emptying their trash cans and waste collectors their carts.
Garbage collected from at least 10 gated societies in the vicinity is dumped in the pit, apart from waste dumped by individual residents living in the various pockets of Mayur Vihar.
Workers from the east municipal corporation linger at the site and do nothing to clear the garbage. “We are on strike. We have not been paid for three months. We won’t collect the garbage and not let anyone else collect it either,” said a sanitation worker.
At about 2 pm, children in blue uniforms poured out on the road lined with school buses, rickshaws and private vehicles.
Bindu Mishra, who drove to the school to pick up her twin boys studying in Class III, parked next to the huge heap of waste. “This is a narrow road. Since this garbage has spilled on the road, there is no place to park. As it is the road gets clogged when school ends, and with garbage strewn all over the problem is compounded.”
Raza Mohammed, who studies in Class V, said, “Sometimes, the stench comes up to our classroom which faces the dump. All my classmates complain about it.”
The school principal pointed out the irony. “Teachers teach children about health and hygiene and then we have this stench wafting through the windows.” She said the school had sent several letters to the MCD to clear the garbage to no avail.
Sanjeev Singh, who runs a food stall that serves daal-chawal and vegetables, said sales have dipped in the past one week. “I used to earn about Rs 1,000 daily but that has now dipped to Rs 700. Not many people want to eat at a place that stinks,” he said.
Meanwhile, the East MCD claimed to have picked up 608.5 metric tonnes of garbage from the district by 8.30 am on February 2. Although the AAP-run Delhi government and the BJP-run corporations arrived at a ‘breakthrough’ with the government extending a loan of Rs 551 crore to the corporations to pay workers’ salaries, sanitation workers, teachers and doctors under the MCD refused to call off their strike.
Despite commissioners appealing to workers to return to work, staff refused and asked the government and the corporations to find a permanent solution to the salary problem.