New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today directed the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to ensure that garbage, if any, that had been dumped on the roadside in the trans-Yamuna area by striking workers of the municipal body is forthwith cleared, even as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) sought responses from the Centre, the Delhi government and the workers’ union on the issue.
The direction came from a bench of Justices Indira Bannerjee and Anil Kumar Chawla on a PIL alleging that garbage had been dumped on the roads by the striking workers of EDMC making it difficult to drive vehicles let alone walk.
The court also issued notice to the corporation and the Delhi government seeking their response by March 1 on the petition which alleges that the municipal workers were protesting as they have not been paid their salary.
Earlier in the day, the NGT took authorities to task for sanitation services in east Delhi coming to a standstill and sought the response from the Centre, the Delhi government and recognised workers’ union over employees’ strike by tomorrow.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Environment Ministry, the Ministry of Urban Development, the AAP government and sanitation workers’ union asking them what steps had been taken to remove waste from the streets and to apprise it about reasons of a deadlock on the issue.
The direction came after advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the EDMC, told the bench that urgent directions were needed as EDMC employees have been on an indefinite strike since January 5 due to non-payment of salary. He also sought the tribunal’s intervention to end the deadlock.
In the afternoon, during the hearing before the High Court, the corporation had said that the salaries for the last two months had been paid yesterday and the strike had been called off. Advocate Sugrive Dubey, the appearing for petitioner Salek Chand Jain, opposed the contention of the corporation and said that only a small group had called off the strike and several workers were still abstaining from work.
He also alleged that the corporation had not made the salary payment to all the workers.
The Delhi government, meanwhile, told the court that it had already released funds to the tune of Rs 605 crore, for the payment of the corporation workers’ salaries up to March 2017.
Rahul Mehra, the standing counsel for the Delhi government, said that the administration had paid more than what was due and now the EDMC had to explain why the people have been put to difficulty when the funds were already released.
Mr Mehra also said that in the last two years, the Delhi government had released more funds than what was done by the previous dispensation.
The petitioner had claimed in his plea that EDMC has committed contempt of court by disobeying the high court’s earlier orders that salaries to all its employees, including sanitation workers, should be paid by the 7th of every month.
This is the third consecutive year when the municipal workers have gone on strike over non-payment of their salary.