The strike by municipal sanitation workers in East Delhi came to an end after 11 days on Monday but the relief for the residents may not be lasting as no concrete steps have been taken to ensure improvement in the financial health of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
The EDMC workers had gone on their fifth strike in two years over non-payment of salaries and arrears. Facing a crippling fund shortage ever since its inception, the EDMC has struggled to stay afloat.
Therefore, the question that harried residents are asking is how long before the workers go on strike again.
The last instalment of funds (R 119 crore) received under non plan head from Delhi government has already been used for paying the pending two months salaries of sanitation workers. Rest of the money will be used for paying one month salary of other Grade D employees such as gardeners and labourers.
However, Grade A-C employees are yet to get two months’ salary. The EDMC officials claim that they will “repeatedly pursue” the matter with the Delhi government to claim funds under Third Finance Commission and implementation of Fourth Finance Commission report.
“But the demands have not received any green signal from government. In the given circumstances it is difficult to comment how much time it will take us to release everyone’s salary,” said a senior EDMC official.
EDMC mayor Satya Sharma said, “Despite our regular correspondence to release R527.41 crore as per third finance commission recommendations, nothing has been done. The Delhi government is waiting for things to get worse.”
According to her, though the workers have resumed work, they will continue their protest outside the EDMC headquarters until pending arrears are not paid. “They have also warned to go back on strike if their promises are not fulfilled and salaries are stopped in future,” she said.
Sharma informed that EDMC has already shared the facts with Delhi High Court as well as the National Green Tribunal.
“Our employees are cooperating but the solution to the crisis is the allocation of ‘special package’ or release of funds under Delhi Fourth Finance Commission recommendation,” said Jitender Chaudhary, standing committee chairman, EDMC.
RWA members who have been in touch with EDMC and Delhi government share the same apprehension.
“When the strike started, we immediately met the deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. He showed willingness to sort out the issue provided EDMC share all facts and figures. We also met the EDMC standing committee chairman Jitender Chaudhary who provided all facts and figures,” said BS Vohra, president of East Delhi RWAs joint Front.
According to him, the Delhi government and EDMC may make claims and counter-claims but they must see to it that the residents do not suffer.