One Group of sanitation workers called off their agitation on Friday but the streets of East Delhi are replete with visible remains of the 12-day strike. Over 15,000 tonnes of garbage continues to rot in the sun. Clogged traffic on arterial routes signal overflowing dhalaos while most roads in the area remain choked with garbage.
According to the East civic body, the strike was called off after a meeting between corporation officials and the Rashtriya Safai Mazdoor Congress (RSMC) — an organisation, officials claimed, was an umbrella body of the sanitation workers’ unions. RSMC leaders maintained that while the “strike is over, protests will continue”.
However, Delhi Pradesh Safai Mazdoor Union president Rajendra Mewati said the strike had been called off by only one workers’ union and the other 17 will continue the protest. “The corporation is trying to cheat its workers by spreading a false message that their demands have been met. This is not the case. We will be protesting on Saturday,” he said.
A civic body official, however, said Mewati was trying to mislead people. After the corporation announced that the strike had been called off, cleaning began at certain garbage dumps . Mewati alleged that this was being done for ‘photo-ops’. “If we don’t go back to work, how can the garbage be cleaned? The corporation expects us to clean the city’s trash and also treats us like trash,” he said.
Even as the political tussle between the AAP government and the BJP-led corporations continues, the question of how East Delhi’s garbage is going to be cleaned remains unanswered. For instance, garbage spilling out from the dump outside Laxmi Nagar district centre has made it impossible for traffic to move on the road leading to Nirman Vihar Metro station.
“It’s impossible to run a shop here. Nobody wants to come and eat food. I barely want to stay in my shop,” Arjun Sharma, who runs a sweet shop, said. A similar scenario was seen in Balco Market, Patparganj. The trail of garbage directly across Balco Apartments had been partially burnt. On Friday afternoon, it was still smoking. “Every day someone burns the garbage and the smoke fills the entire neighborhood. It becomes impossible to breathe,” Pariniti Mehta, a resident, said.