MCD staff begins strike, rubbish starts piling up

MCD staff begins strike, rubbish starts piling up

Schoolchildren sent back home, patients too suffer

An indefinite strike by municipal employees demanding timely wages began on Wednesday with a partial impact as garbage started building up in some areas and school kids and patients were turned back from schools and hospitals.

A bulk of sanitation workers, teachers, doctors and engineers kept away from work and hundreds of agitating employees held a protest outside the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanding release of funds by the AAP government for payment of their salaries and arrears.

An official in the North Corporation said some employees did work despite the strike call given by workers’ unions. “Skeletal staff was present in hospital emergency,” he said.

On the whole, garbage was not lifted from some community bins, teachers did not take classes in schools, building department engineers did not go out in field for demolitions, dog catchers and health inspectors also stayed away from work and a bulk of nurses and doctors abstained from work.

As the Delhi High Court tasked the police commissioner to work closely with the corporations to ensure smooth functioning of civic offices and lifting of garbage, a verbal war broke out between the ruling AAP and the BJP – which controls the three corporations. The Congress blamed both the BJP and the AAP government for the crisis.

Rajender Mewati, general secretary, United Front of MCD Employees, said “The strike would continue. We will review the situation on January 29 on the future course.”

A threat of an epidemic may loom if agitating staff does not budge in and garbage starts piling up in the coming days.

 The Kejriwal government dished out figures of payments made to the civic agencies for payment of salaries while the BJP demanded early release of more funds and implementation of the Fourth Finance Commission report which recommends a larger pool of funds for the cash-starved civic agencies from the Delhi government’s tax revenue.  

Workers attached to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) had gone on strike over similar demands in October last year. But the strike was called off after the High Court directed the AAP government to release funds for salaries.

Apart from salaries and arrears, the employees are now seeking regularisation of contract-based employees and unification of the three corporations.

In a joint statement, the three Mayors  - Subhash Arya,  Harsh Malhotra and Ravindra Gupta  - said that Kejriwal government was responsible for the inconvenience caused to the people due to the collapse of municipal services.

Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, himself a councillor, demanded that the AAP government should implement the previous finance commission report and set up the Fifth Finance Commission on municipal finances.

In a hurried-called press briefing, Delhi government’s Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra alleged scams in the BJP-ruled civic agencies and said an attempt was being made to vilify the AAP government and create a humiliating situation in the city.

“The municipal commissioners have already given in writing that the money needed by the civic agencies for payment of salaries has already been paid,” he said, adding that MCDs are not showing any interest in recovering their Rs 1,555 crore dues from the centre-controlled Delhi Development Authority.

Delhi Congress chief spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee said with the MCD employees going on yet another strike for non-payment of their salaries, a “despicable situation” has arisen in Delhi, which was due to the rampant corruption and inefficiency in the BJP-ruled MCDs. 

She said the AAP government was also to be blamed for the present mess in the MCDs as it was its apathetic attitude that has worsened the financial crisis in the MCDs.