Govt offers Rs 623 cr, but strike continues

Unions press for permanent solution to impasse

Govt offers Rs 623 cr, but strike continues
As Delhiites continued to suffer due to the municipal staff strike for the eighth day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offered a Rs 623-crore bailout package to civic agencies to pay salaries to the protestors.

The municipal employees refused to budge and vowed to continue their strike alleging that the Kejriwal government was not doing enough to find a permanent solution.

The protesting employees disrupted traffic in east Delhi and created ruckus by getting heads tonsured at some places in Laxmi Nagar and ITO.  Heated arguments also took place between protesters and Delhi government teams which tried to lift garbage. Hospitals and schools remained paralysed.

Alleging a scam in the distribution of salaries to employees by the BJP-ruled municipal corporations, Kejriwal — through a video conference from Bengaluru — announced an “additional loan” of Rs 551 crore and another Rs 72 crore from other sources for the financially ailing North and East corporations.  Setting up a political clash with the AAP government, mayors of the three BJP-ruled municipalities said they will accept the Rs 551 crore amount not as a loan but as a grant against the long-pending funds to be released by the Delhi government for implementation of the Fourth Finance Commission report.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the education budget will be readjusted to arrange the Rs 551 crore “loan” for the municipal corporations which needs to be utilised judiciously in distributing salaries to their employees till January.

The Delhi government, in a statement, again appealed to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, who is the chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, to direct it to clear the Rs 1,575 crore property tax it owes to three municipal corporations.

However, unions said they would resume work only when the city government and corporations find a “permanent” solution to this impasse.

Soon after the announcement, Kejriwal tweeted: “It is with great difficulty that we hv been able to find this Rs 550cr for loan. Del govt is facing Rs 3000 cr VAT shortfall (sic).”

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken lashed out at Kejriwal for not doing enough to end the strike.

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