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Monday, March 08, 2021

Delhi becomes garbage central: ‘No place to even walk’

With thousands of North MCD workers on strike over salary delays, roads in several areas are drowning in filth, with no resolution to the crisis on the horizon.

Written by Ananya Tiwari | New Delhi |
Updated: January 23, 2021 12:46:22 pm
Cows feed on garbage at Kanhaiya Nagar in New Delhi (Express Photo: Prem Nath Pandey)

In what could lead to a health hazard, mounds of garbage have continued to pile across several localities in North Delhi as thousands of sanitation workers protest non-payment of salaries. The Indian Express visited Sadar Bazar, Karol Bagh, Rohini, Delhi Gate and Kanhaiya Nagar on Friday — in many areas, so much garbage had collected that the roads were barely usable.

Satish Kumar (51), a maintenance worker for the North Delhi Municipal Corporation who heads the union representing 4th class employees of municipalities such as safai karamcharis, told The Indian Express, “For the past 6-7 days, safai karamcharis are not working as part of the strike. For 4-5 months, they have not been paid, bonuses are pending for 2 years, there are karamcharis who have not yet been made permanent despite working with the MCD for 15-20 years. Unless they pay our salaries and figure out a permanent solution to this, this strike shall continue.”

At the prominent Sadar Bazar and Karol Bagh markets, the filth has brought business to a standstill.

Chaman Lal (76), who owns a shop in Sadar Bazar, said, “No one can work without salaries but we just wish cleanliness is maintained — we don’t know what to do with the stacks of garbage in front of our shops. It can lead to an illness. It has been around 8 days and everyone keeps throwing more garbage on the streets.”

Gulshan (24), another shop owner, said, “In a few days the pile will become unmanageable. The authorities must find a solution.” President of the Sadar Bazar traders association, Paramjeet Singh Pamma, said customer footfall has dropped drastically as a result.

Naveen Keshwani (41), who runs a shoe store at Karol Bagh, said, “We can’t even walk on the road; the smell is so bad. Karol Bagh market was once a tourist spot and now it looks like this.”

Jai Prakash, mayor of North MCD and the councillor of Sadar Bazar, said, “Today we cleared 2 months’ worth of salaries to safai karamcharis, worth approximately Rs 154 crores.” Urging sanitation workers to resume work, he said: “This is the capital of the country, and I appeal to the workers to go back to work. We are working on a permanent solution… and even the Delhi High Court is hearing the matter. We shall clear as many dues as possible of all employees by the end of the month.”

But A P Khan, convener of the Confederation of MCD Employees’ Union, drew a hard line: “Till they release salaries of all employees, including pensioners, and find a permanent solution, the strike will continue.”

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