The BJP’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the AAP’s good, clean governance mandate took a hit on Friday after close to 12,000 safai karmacharis under the East Municipal Corporation went on strike. Protesting workers took to the street Friday afternoon refusing to pick up garbage in the area and instead gathered at traffic intersections and spread rotting garbage across the roads.
The strike was called by the Delhi Pradesh Safai Karamchari Union. Its president Rajendra Mewati said, “Our wages from the corporations have not been paid for months so we have decided to go on strike.”
Areas affected included deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s constituency Patparganj and Mangalam, Laxmi Nagar, Karkardooma, Vikas Marg, Jagatpuri and some areas of North Delhi.
The garbage thrown was so thick and deep that many two-wheeler drivers slipped and fell. “I saw more than 15 people fall today. It’s bad and they should not have put the common man at risk. The garbage littered on the roads had glass bottles, nails and scrap iron. It’s very dangerous,” Akhilesh, a paan vendor, said.
Many of the residents are also angry with the way the safai karamcharis have decided to protest. “I have been living in this area for the past 10 years and this is the first time I have seen something like this. I live in Chetna Apartments and the the stink doesn’t reach us. But walking on the street is now impossible. I hope the government does something to resolve this issue,” Gaurav Gujral, a resident, said.
Elaborating on the issue, Yogendra Mann, East Municipal Corporation spokesperson, said, “This happened because the karamcharis have not been given their salaries since February. As soon as we get funds, the salaries will be given to karamcharis.”
Currently, there are nearly 12,000 safai karamcharis under East corporation. The civic body is facing a huge financial crunch and it needs around Rs 300 crore in order to pay salaries to its employees.
Senior functionaries of the association also said they would protest outside the houses of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
“We will spread garbage outside their houses as well if our demands are not met immediately. How can poor people be refused wages,” a senior leader said.
A safai karamchari said, “It’s been six months since the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan took off. But it’s almost the end of this month and I am yet to receive my salary for the past three months. While the rest of the country celebrated, the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan for us meant the loss of a holiday. But most of us didn’t complain, as we thought it would make the country cleaner. But if we don’t even get paid on time, what is the point? Most of us live on a month-to-month basis and without our salary, our families will starve.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines