The strike by sanitation workers in east Delhi seemed to be heading towards an end, with more around 83% of workers reporting back to work on Saturday.
Officials said the sanitation conditions in east Delhi started getting normal on Saturday after a majority of workers resumed work.
A section of sanitation workers, however, continued to protest outside the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) headquarter on Saturday, the tenth day of the strike, to demand payment of pending dues. These workers, too later, hinted that they might join work after a final meeting with EDMC commissioner Mohanjeet Singh on Monday morning.
East Delhi is divided into two districts, Shahdara south and Shahdara north.
As per a senior EDMC official, of the 8,595 sanitation workers (regular and daily wagers) in Shahdara south zone, 6,800 resumed work on Saturday.
“Though 7,700 (90 %) staff marked their attendance, only 6,800 (78-80%) started work and helped in cleaning dhalaos, lifting garbage from localities with the help of tippers and also de-silting drains. The remaining workers went and continued the strike outside the EDMC headquarters,” said the official.
A total of 1,450 metric tonnes of garbage was lifted from dhalaos in Shahdara south zone with the help of 33 trucks on Saturday.
In Shahdara north, of the 7,900 sanitation workers, 7,000 were back to work on Saturday. “On Saturday, they lifted 1,200 MT of garbage with the help of 35 trucks,” said another senior EDMC official. About 17,000 sanitation workers are employed with EDMC, out of which about 15,000 are employed full-time.
Aakriti Sahni, a resident of Anand Vihar said: “Sanitation workers collected garbage from roadsides and also cleaned the drains on Friday morning. On Saturday, tippers visited various colonies to clean internal lanes.”
Some of the places worst affected by the strikes — like Raghubar Pura, Ajeet Nagar, Dharam Pura and other neighbouring areas — however, continued to wait for relief as most sanitation workers remained absent from work on Saturday again.
“We don’t want residents to suffer, but we have no other way of getting the authority’s attention. We know that EDMC is running in huge losses and it doesn’t have money to pay our arrears, but it can at least pursue the matter with the state government,” said Sanjay Gehlot, president of MCD Swachhata Karmchari Union, which is affiliated to Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).
Another protest on Feb 7
MCD Swachhata Karmchari Union has announced a mass protest on February 7, which will see participation of municipal staff from various departments, such as horticulture, education, health and others. The sanitation workers will gather at Rajghat and later protest outside the chief minister’s office and Delhi Secretariat and demand the implementation of the recommendations of the fourth Delhi Finance Commission report and pending arrears.