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State invokes ESMA to check garbage crisis

DH News Services, Bengaluru, Sep 24 2017, 2:15 IST
A garbage crisis now, in the festive season when the amount of waste generated goes up significantly, may further dent the ruling Congress's image. DH photo

A garbage crisis now, in the festive season when the amount of waste generated goes up significantly, may further dent the ruling Congress's image. DH photo

In the wake of garbage contractors threatening to disrupt waste collection in Bengaluru, the state government on Saturday invoked ESMA, prohibiting pourakarmikas and other staff from going on strike for the next one year.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah directed the Urban Development Department to invoke Section 3 of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), which empowers the state government to crack down on protests and strikes that disrupt public services.

All pourakarmikas, auto tippers, compact loaders and drivers employed directly by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) or through contractors cannot strike work for the next one year. The ESMA provision covers both pourakarmikas under contract as well as those on the civic body’s rolls, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad clarified.

The move comes months ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections and at a time when the state government and the BBMP are facing the heat from the public over the recent rain-related chaos.

A garbage crisis now, in the festive season when the amount of waste generated goes up significantly, may further dent the ruling Congress’s image.

The ESMA, which comes with stringent penal provisions, can be invoked whenever essential services such as public transport, health services, the supply of water, milk and electricity are affected.

Solid waste management was declared as an “essential service” in June last year.

This is the second time the government has invoked ESMA this year. In July, ESMA was invoked against Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) workers who went on a flash strike. The ESMA was invoked in 2000 when pre-university lecturers boycotted evaluation of answer scripts for more than a month.

People who violate the Act are liable to be imprisoned for a year or fine of Rs 5,000 or both. They can be arrested without a warrant and all offences under ESMA are non-bailable.

Once ESMA is imposed, a person cannot take recourse under any other law.

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