New Delhi: Confusion prevailed over the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) employees’ strike on Monday with the Delhi government saying the strike has been called off while various sanitation workers’ associations maintaining that it was still on.
Even as the Delhi government released ₹119 crore to the EDMC, the striking sanitation workers on Monday dumped piles of refuse taken out of drains and garbage on city roads over non-payment of gtheir salaries for the last two months.
Late evening on Monday, Delhi government officials claimed that the sanitation workers have called off their strike.
“The EDMC commissioner told Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia that the strike has been called off,” a government official told IANS after Mr. Sisodia’s meeting with the EDMC commissioner.
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However, MCD Swachhta Karamchari Union President Sanjay Gehlot said the sanitation workers won’t resume work till the money is credited to their bank accounts.
“We have been told that the government has released funds to the EDMC. But we don’t care about the paper work. We will resume work only when the salaries are credited to our accounts,” Mr. Gehlot said.
“The strike is still going on and we will be joined by teachers, nursing staff of MCD hospitals and others tomorrow when we will hold a demonstration,” he added.
Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Congress President Rajendra Mewati also maintained that the strike of sanitation employees was still on.
He said that sanitation workers will disrupt any move by the government to remove garbage from the city streets.
Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis Chairman Sant Lal Chawaria appealed to the sanitation employees to return to work as the government has released funds for the salaries.
The ‘safai karamcharis’ have been on strike since Friday to protest non-payment of their salaries for the past two months.
The Delhi government on Saturday approved payment of ₹119 crore to the EDMC and the sum was transferred to the corporation’s bank account on Monday, a Delhi government official said.
On Monday, Sisodia held a series of meetings with sanitation workers, Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), the EDMC Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner over the strike.
He made an appeal to the agitated EDMC employees to resume work as the government has released funds for their salaries.
He also offered that the Delhi government will remove the piled up garbage from the streets with the help of Public Works Department (PWD) if RWAs assist the government.
Earlier in the day, the workers of the EDMC burnt an effigy of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at their corporation headquarters in Shahdara.
Kejriwal accused BJP Councillors of siphoning off funds meant for municipal employees in the capital.
“(The) BJP playing dirty politics with Delhi. Their councillors siphoned funds meant for salaries of MCD employees and then throw garbage on Delhi’s roads,” the Aam Aadmi Party leader tweeted.
“More funds, than were due this year, have been given to MCD. (The) BJP siphoned it off or diverted it rather than paying salaries,” he added.
All the three Delhi Municipal Corporations are controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said that the Kejriwal government was responsible for the sanitation crisis.
He said that Kejriwal government had given only ₹609 crore to the EDMC even as the civic body had raised a revenue of around ₹800 crore, making a total corpus of ₹1,400 crore.
“The annual salary bill alone of EDMC is ₹1,600 crore. It can be imagined how the civic body is running its primary sanitation, health or educational services, let alone other works,” he said.
Sisodia said that ever since the AAP came to power, the Delhi government had been giving ₹600 to ₹700 crore to the EDMC per year compared to ₹300-400 crore during the erstwhile Congress government and the President’s Rule.
आप सरकार ने MCDs को सबसे ज्यादा फंड दिया है। ये पैसा कहां जा रहा है? सफाई कर्मियों का पैसा कौन खा रहा है? पिछले 5 साल का रिकार्ड देखिए- pic.twitter.com/fiDqMFnbZu
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) January 9, 2017
“MCDs are being paid twice as much amount compared to earlier. MCDs have no explanation where this money is going. They are exploiting the sanitation workers,” Sisodia said after meeting sanitation workers.
The Delhi government also released a statement that it had released ₹609 crore in fiscal 2016-17 for municipal employees and ₹702 crore in 2015-16.
According to the statement, in contrast, earlier, when the AAP did not rule in Delhi, the amount allotted was much less — ₹441 crore in 2014-15, ₹416 crore in 2013-14 and ₹399 crore in 2012-13.
Leader of Opposition in the Delhi assembly Vijender Gupta dismissed Sisodia’s charges against the municipal corporations and called them “baseless and misleading”.
“The government has failed to fulfil its obligations and is now diverting attention from real issues,” he said.
Gupta also demanded that the Delhi Government must make permanent system for payment to the MCDs so that all the three municipal corporations could make timely payments to their employees.
Delhi Congress chief, Ajay Maken, said it was unfortunate that the sanitation workers had to go on strike for the fifth time in the last two years since the AAP came to power.