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East Delhi residents doomed to a 'stinky' life as talks to end sanitation workers' strike fail

New Delhi: After nine days of the continuous strike, the sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation failed to arrive at a conclusion on Friday at a meeting held with the authorities over their dues and decided to continue with the agitation.

The fallout comes at a time when the residents of east Delhi are raring for a suitable solution of the acrimony.

No respite for East Delhi residents from garbage heaps as sanitation workers remain on strike.

No respite for East Delhi residents from garbage heaps as sanitation workers remain on strike.

Sanjay Gehlot, leader of the agitation told Firstpost after the meeting that the authorities failed to commit to fulfil their demands.

"Presently they have given us only assurance. But no concrete decision has been arrived at,” he said.

Gehlot also said that the authorities have proposed for another round of meeting with the sanitation workers on Monday.

"Till Monday cleaning work will not resume. The decision to continue or not to continue with the strike will be taken only after the meeting,” he said.

Gehlot also said that all the sanitation workers have received two months salary and the corporation is yet to pay the salary of one month.

The sanitation workers began their agitational programme after the corporation failed to pay three months salary.

“The strike is not carried only in demand for three months salary. We want a permanent solution to the recurring problem regarding our salary,” Gehlot said.

RV Untwal, another leader among the sanitation workers, said, “This is the sixth time we are in agitation after Arvind Kejriwal took over as the chief minister in the year 2015. The corporation has not paid the arrear salaries for more than a decade.”

Sanitation workers said that apart from clearing salary dues they have also been demanding cashless health insurance benefit from the corporation, which also has not been met.

“We fall ill frequently due to constant exposure to dirt. But they are not provided with the cashless health insurance scheme despite repeated demands,” they said.

The Friday meeting was held between the sanitation workers and additional commissioner Vivek Pandey.

Deputy Commissioner Atik Ahmed, who was privy to the discussion told Firstpost, “We have discussed over all of their demands and told that we will soon let them know our decisions."

On Wednesday, Delhi heaved a sigh of relief as a section of sanitation workers withdrew agitation and joined work.

But a section of the workers continued with the strike. Today the decision to push the strike up to Monday has raised further anxiety among the Delhites.

Alleging negligence on the part of AAP-led state government, Satya Sharma, the mayor of East Delhi Municipal Corporation said, "I have been pursuing with the Delhi government to pay up the dues accumulated over the last four years. But we are yet to receive the funds."

She said that the Delhi government has dues amounting to Rs 527 crore.

The mayor further said that after trifurcation of the MCD in 2012, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation is left with huge financial liabilities but with minimum revenue sources to meet them.

"We have to pay Rs 125 crore to our 28,000 employees as monthly salaries. But we receive property tax of Rs 120 crore a year," Sharma said.

Recently Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia declared that Rs 119 crore has been released for payment of salaries but the agitating workers reiterated that it is too small an amount given the liabilities of the corporation.

Property tax constitutes 45 percent of the corporation's revenues as per the city development plan prepared by the Delhi government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, that was implemented from the year 2005 to 2014.

"There are 128 unauthorised colonies in East Delhi from where we do not get any property tax," she said.

When asked what could be the permanent solution to the problem she said pleading helplessness that until the Delhi government pays the dues nothing can be done.

"The 4th Delhi Finance Commission recommended the Delhi government to pay Rs 5,000 crore to the Corporation. A permanent solution could be expected only if we receive this fund," the mayor of East Delhi Municipal Corporation said.

Even as the mayor blamed the AAP-led Delhi government for the crisis the AAP reacted sharply to these allegations.

In a press release issued by the media cell, AAP said that the BJP has turned the MCDs into national shame with its criminal negligence and monumental inefficiency.

AAP Delhi convenor Dilip Pandey said, "The Delhi government had tabled the 4th Finance Commission recommendations in the Delhi Assembly. We have even said that we are in favour of completely implementing them but the central government showed no interest in implementing its part."

It also alleged the BJP led MCDs of not doing their part to increase revenue.

Earlier the AAP ministers cited corruption as the reason for MCD’s perennial fund crisis.

In 2015, Manish Sisodia tabled the recommendations of the 4th Delhi Finance Commission which suggested the state government share more of its revenue with the Municipal Corporations of Delhi.

In similar lines, it also suggested that the urban development ministry at the centre should also not deal with matters related to the Constitution and powers of the municipal bodies, which was picked up by the state government as a pretext to pass the buck on the centre.
The Delhi government decided to implement these recommendations only if centre does the same.

Even as the AAP-BJP mudslinging gathers momentum the fund crisis in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation remains unsolved, much to the woes of the residents of the capital city.


Updated Date: Jan 13, 2017 21:11 PM

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