The political blame game over the strike by over one lakh municipal workers in Delhi continued as the stir entered its third day on Friday. With the three-day ultimatum ending, the workers’ unions said their agitation would now continue till they get pending salaries.
The municipal corporation and BJP leaders accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of deliberately holding back funds to gain political mileage while the AAP reiterated that rampant corruption and financial mismanagement by the BJP was responsible for the crisis.
With no end to the ongoing stalemate in sight, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Friday issued a letter to the three municipal commissioners, demanding details of the pending salary and arrears.
Sources in the corporation said the municipal commissioners had sought Rs 1,500 crore as immediate relief so that they could pay salaries of their employees.
“The Delhi government owes us more than Rs 1,800 crore as per the third finance commission report. It is ironic that the government has money to spend on advertisements to highlight its own achievements but is shying away from paying the employees and causing inconvenience to the general public,” said Ravinder Gupta, North Delhi mayor.
The AAP shot back, saying the civic bodies were themselves responsible for the financial mess.
“There is a salary scam in the BJP-ruled MCDs. Where has the entire fund of Swachh Delhi, their tax revenue and other funds gone? The MCDs must make their accounts public as also the funds released by the Delhi government and the money collected as tax,” Delhi water minister Kapil Mishra said.
The minister said the government was making alternative arrangements to clean the garbage. “We are working out a plan to clean out garbage, which would be revealed soon,” he added.
The protest by the municipal workers has taken a toll on the city with heaps of garbage being thrown on roads. The protesters also blocked roads during the morning rush on Friday, triggering traffic snarls in east Delhi and large parts central and west Delhi.
“I had to ride my bike very slowly and carefully when I went to drop my kids to school because there was so much garbage on the road. The bike was skidding because of the pea chaff lying around,” said Rajesh Malhotra, a resident of Chandni Chowk.
In east Delhi, the busy Vikas Marg bore the brunt of the agitation with mounds of garbage lying around till afternoon and traffic jams.
Schools students also continued to suffer due the lack of teachers in schools. Parents said that even as some schools allowed students to sit inside the classrooms, others sent them back home.