Updated: January 23, 2021 12:46:22 pm
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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