Sanitation workers' strike leaves garbage collection project in limbo | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Sanitation workers' strike leaves garbage collection project in limbo

punjab Updated: Jan 18, 2014 21:34 IST
Sanjeev Bhalla

The door-to-door garbage collection project, envisaged under the solid waste management programme, is in limbo due to the deadlock between the government and agitating sanitation workers.

The government seems to be in a fix as it is neither interested to accept demands of the agitating employees nor ready to go in for any direct confrontation with them in view of the approaching Lok Sabha elections.

For the 4th consecutive day on Saturday, sanitation workers stayed away from work. As a result, the number of heaps of garbage on roadsides is increasing day by day.

Only a section of the workers are presently attending their duties but their work is confined to cleaning of roads primarily. As drivers of the garbage picking vehicles have also joined the agitated employees, garbage has not been lifted for the last four days.

"The system has failed miserably. There should be some solution to the problem as the workers have been agitating for the last over six months. We are surprised that the administration is apathetic and the common man is suffering on the issue," Satinderpal Singh, a resident of JP Nagar said.

Demanding scrapping of the project, citing it as anti-employee and a threat to their jobs, nearly 300 safai workers have been on strike since January 15 and have been sitting on a dharna inside the municipal corporation office.

"We have knocked at every door in the local bodies department. The authorities are not giving any satisfactory reply. They are saying that the decision on the project will be taken by the chief minister only. We are requesting the the authorities to fix our meeting with the CM but nobody is listening to us. It appears to us that the authorities are planning to launch the project clandestinely" union leader Chandan Garewal said.

The JITF Ecopolis, the agency engaged to handle the project was planning to start door-to-door garbage collection from August 15 last year in eight wards in the first phase, thereafter adding more wards within 10 days. The company had also recruited the requisite manpower and arranged the machinery required for the purpose.

But after the protests by workers, the project got stuck and it remains so even after several rounds of meetings between officials and the agitators.

Secretary, local bodies, Ashok Gupta, said, "MC commissioner has been directed to ensure lifting of garbage with the available manpower. As far as the status of the door-to-door garbage collection project is concerned, local bodies minister is the competent authority to speak on it."

Local bodies minister Anil Joshi could not be contacted as he was busy in the BJP's national executive meeting at New Delhi.