East Delhi sanitation workers call off strike, municipal corporation says dues will be cleared by March

Sanitation workers on Monday called off their 11-day strike and agreed to lift garbage much to the relief of the east Delhi residents. The MCD Swacchata Karmchari Union had gone on strike demanding payment of pending salaries and arrears.

RV Untwal, a union leader, told Firstpost that the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has assured to meet their demands and clear the dues by March. “We had a meeting with Mohanjeet Singh, the commissioner of the EDMC. He has sought time till March to clear the arrears,” he said.

The demands of the sanitation workers included salaries that were pending for three months, along with arrears and the facility of cashless health insurance. “We frequently fall ill due to constant exposure to dirt. But don't have cashless health insurance scheme despite repeated demands,” said one of workers.

“The commissioner has assured that the files related to arrears and cashless health insurance have been sent to the Delhi government and the demand will be met by March,” Untwal said.

 East Delhi sanitation workers call off strike, municipal corporation says dues will be cleared by March

Representational photo. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

The commissioner told the Hindustan Times that the corporation has already paid two months salary last week. “We have agreed to most of their demands but we cannot pay them the arrears yet,” he said.

Untwal also said that a few of the sanitation workers will continue with their demonstrations until all the demands are fulfilled. “On 7 February, we are going to organise a massive protest in front of the Delhi Secretariat. The ball is now in the Delhi government’s court. It is up to the Delhi government to pay our dues," he added.

Alleging negligence on the part of the AAP government, Satya Sharma, the mayor of the EDMC, told Firstpost, “I have been asking 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 crores.

The mayor further said that after the trifurcation of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) in 2012, the EDMC was left with huge financial liabilities and minimum revenue sources. “We have to pay Rs 125 crores to our 28,000 employees as monthly salaries. But we receive property tax of Rs 120 crores per year,” she said.

Recently, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that Rs 119 crores has been released for payment of salaries but the agitating workers pointed out 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 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 that nothing can be done until the Delhi government pays the dues. “The 4th Delhi Finance Commisssion recommended the Delhi government to pay Rs 5,000 crores to the corporation. Permanent solution could be expected only if we receive this fund,” said Sharma.

In a press release issued by the media cell, AAP said that the BJP has turned the MCDs into national shame with it’s 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 are in favour of completely implementing them but the central government showed no interest in implementing it’s part.”

The press release also raised a host of questions, one being “Is it not a fact that all the MCDs for the current financial year have been released what was due to them ahead of the schedule in every quarter?”

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

Earlier, the AAP ministers cited corruption being the reason for the MCDs perennial fund crisis.

In 2015, Sisodia tabled the recommendations of the 4th Delhi Finance Commission which suggested that the state government share more of it’s revenue with the MCDs. The Delhi government decided to implement these recommendations only if the Centre does the same.

Updated Date: Jan 16, 2017 23:36:40 IST