The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday asked authorities what can be done to boost the sanitation services in east Delhi so that a collapse of the garbage management mechanism could be avoided in the future. The NGT query came even as the strike called by sanitation staff of East Delhi Municipal Corporation entered its seventh day.
“What measures can be taken in order to ensure that such a situation doesn’t take place in the future?” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the environment ministry, the ministry of urban development, the AAP government, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation and workers’ union representatives. The next date of hearing is on Thursday.
Since 2015, east corporation sanitation workers have gone on strike five times over non-payment of salaries. This time, it’s over non-payment of their November and December salaries. Though the Delhi government has released ₹119 crore to the civic body, workers say it is not enough for even one month.
The tribunal had earlier on Tuesday issued notice to all the stakeholders, asking them what steps have been taken to remove waste from the streets.
The east Delhi, the areas that have been hit the most are: Laxmi Nagar, Preet Vihar, Krishna Nagar, New Ashok Nagar, Vinod Nagar, Khichripur and other adjoining areas. Huge piles of garbage are lying outside these colonies with sanitation workers refusing to pick the garbage until their salaries are paid. In East Delhi, around 2500 MT garbage is generated every day.
The NGT directions came after advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), told the bench that urgent directions were needed as EDMC employees were on indefinite strike since January 5 due to non-payment of salary. He also sought the tribunal’s intervention to end the deadlock.
The EDMC lawyer said there was an extraordinary situation and sought directions for immediate release of salary to sanitation workers saying that the ‘dhalaos’ were overflowing with waste.
The NGT had earlier directed all municipal authorities to draw up “an integrated waste management plan for Delhi, identify landfill sites and improve condition of existing sites,” among other issues.