For five days now, the smell of rotting garbage has lingered over the most densely populated area of the capital. With sanitation workers on strike over their salaries not being paid since October, several parts of the 105 sq km area that constitutes east Delhi are overflowing with trash. And it might just get worse — the strike, which was confined to the east until Monday, will extend to north Delhi on Tuesday.
In Laxmi Nagar, Vishwas Nagar and Krishna Nagar, there is so much garbage on the roads that people have been restricted to using a narrow path to walk on. The EDMC has hired private contractors as a stopgap, but it has done little to help.
The safai karamcharis, meanwhile, insist that leaving garbage on the streets is the only way they can get authorities to pay attention. “We have tried giving notices, we have held meetings, we have been given assurances but even then our salaries are three months late,” Rajendra Mewati of the Akhil Bharatiya Safai Mazdoor Congress said.
Doctors, teachers and engineers of the EDMC are also awaiting salaries since October, and safai karamcharis insist that all employees must receive their dues. Another demand is that the three corporations be unified like they used to be, since that is the root of their financial problems.
“When expenditure is threefold and money is not evenly distributed, corporations are bound to suffer,” a worker said.
Members of at least six unions in the east met with commissioner Mohanjeet Singh and mayor Satya Sharma at the EDMC headquarters on Tuesday. While officials claimed they had “agreed to call off the strike”, leaders of different unions said it will continue till all employees receive salaries.
With municipal schools set to re-open after vacations on January 16, teachers plan to take a call on joining the strike then, general secretary of the MCD Teacher’s Association Vibha Singh said.
Meanwhile, after holding a meeting with the east Delhi mayor and a delegation of sanitation workers, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the government was unaware that municipal workers were not being paid salaries. “The MCD has no account of where the money given to them has gone. It is exploiting sanitation workers,” he said.
The Congress announced that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will join the strike if workers’ dues are delayed further. The party also held the BJP and AAP responsible for the corporations’ financial troubles.