The timing couldn't have been worse for Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC). Even as it strives hard for a spruce-up under pressure from the court, scores of sanitation workers threatened to launch a strike to protest suspension of sanitary inspectors without due process and reiterating other longstanding demands.
The possible strike was, however, staved off after municipal commissioner Rakesh Singh reportedly gave a written assurance that the demands would be met in toto.
On a typical weekday, Indore regurgitates around 900 metric tonnes of municipal waste of which only around 600-700 tonnes reaches the trenching ground. The rest, with the exception of recyclable goods picked up by rag pickers, remains heaped at various sites with vacant plots being a favoured dumping ground.
Earlier, hundreds of sanitation workers, gathered under the banner of the Rajya Safai Karamachari Morcha, streamed into the IMC headquarter premises on Monday to demand, among other things, weekly offs for safai karamcharis (sanitation workers) on the muster.
Morcha state president Pratap Karosia also slammed the IMC administration for "needlessly" punishing and suspending sanitary inspectors.
"The management of garbage bins is the job of A2Z Ltd (the firm contracted to collect and ferry municipal waste from the bins to the trenching ground at Devguradia). So why are sanitary inspectors being suspended if garbage is not collected properly," he demanded to know. Around five darogas have been suspended recently for alleged laxity.
Karosia alleged that the darogas were suspended without due process. "The IMC administration should serve a notice and give the employee a chance to present his case before suspending him. But this hasn't been done," he charged.
The Morcha president said the IMC administration had also agreed to regularize the services of longstanding muster roll workers, clear blocked promotional channels by elevating beldar to the posts of daroga and clear pending applications for appointments on compassionate grounds.
Municipal commissioner Singh was not available for comments. However, chief health officer Dr DC Garg broadly corroborated Karosia's claims. "As per rules, notices should be served before suspension and this will be done. A decision on regularization of muster roll employees and appointment on compassionate grounds will be taken at a meeting on the 26th (September)," he told Hindustan Times.
During a recent hearing on a petition filed by social activist Kishore Kodwani on lack of proper solid waste management, the high court directed the district collector to ensure that the city remains clean.