A major relief to the residents of East Delhi, as the East Delhi sanitation workers end their strike that lasted for 28 days. The strike which had forced citizens to live in the presence of huge piles of garbage and the unbearing stench was called off after the main demand of regularisation of around 3000 contractual staff was agreed to by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation. The strike which had begun on 12 September is the longest ever strike in the history of the EDMC.
Coming back to Delhi sanitation workers end their strike, the workers had initiated the strike over several long pending issues which stretched to non-payment of salaries, arrears, regularisation of posts and health benefits. With the workers refusing to work, the sanitation services in the capital had taken an adverse turn, going downhill over the last month. The areas worst affected by the strike were Lakshmi Nagar, Geeta Colony, Shakarpur, Laxmi Nagar, Krishna Nagar, and Ip Extension.
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EDMC generates about 2,600 tonnes of waste every day and with no civic arrangements in place, the area has been a landslide of waste ever since September. “Due to the strike, we are able to lift 1800-2000 tonne of garbage from dhalaos. But no arrangement could be made for lifting garbage from roads,” said a senior official from the department of environmental management services.
Over the past six years, EDMC has witnessed the most financial problems. Even since the trifurcation of the Municipal Cooperation of Delhi into three municipal corporations, EDMC has been generating the least revenue, leading to workers often having to wait for long periods to get their salaries. According to reports, both the East and North municipal corporations need a Rs.7,000 crore bailout package to pull them out of their current crisis.
The Delhi government and municipal corporations have been at loggerheads on the issue of funds ever since the AAP government came in power in the country. Piling the blame on each other, the two parties have failed to reach any meaningful decision regarding the current issues plaguing the corporations, resulting in sanitation workers and citizens suffering.
Municipal corporation officials have claimed that the Delhi government’s refusal to adopt the fourth finance commission recommendations shows that the former is not getting the required amount to run the corporations. The Delhi Government meanwhile, who has been lethargic in its running of the capital, showing least interest to ensuring the environmental cleanliness of the city and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, has been least interested in implementing the Fourth Delhi Finance Commission which had allocated more funds to the cooperation. The civic body needs Rs.190 crore per month to pay its salary bills.
The agitation was finally brought to an end after Puneet Goel, the officiating commissioner, agreed to regularising contractual workers. In a meeting held with the Swachhta Karamchari Union, Goel assured the workers of meeting their demands and requested them to resume work, keeping in mind the upcoming festive month.
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