Municipal services to be hit as MCG staff announce indefinite protest in support of suspended engineer
Municipal services in the city are likely to be hit as officials and contractual workers of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) are set to go on an indefinite strike from Friday, demanding the reinstatement of a suspended superintending engineer (SE).
MCG officials and contractual workers on Thursday refused to carry out their work in the offices and held a demonstration at the MCG’s Sector 34 office.
“Due to the strike, municipal services will take a hit and the public will be inconvenienced. However, it is unavoidable as we want the MCG and the ULB [Urban Local Bodies] to reinstate the SE,” TL Sharma, the MCG’s chief engineer, said.
Services such as internal roads and drains, garbage collection and streetlights, among others, are likely to be affected.
On Monday, the SE, Ramesh Sharma, and the mayor, Madhu Azad, clashed during a review meeting with regard to clearing a blocked drain in Ward 22. While Azad alleged dereliction of duty and misbehaviour by Sharma, he alleged that the mayor took action as he refused to carry out favours.
On Wednesday, Azad and a group of councillors met ULB minister Anil Vij during his visit to the city and demanded action against the SE. On Vij’s direction, the ULB suspended Sharma.
However, the ULB’s order evoked strong opposition from MCG employees. The MCG’s engineering wing initially observed a “pen down” protest on Thursday, but they received support from other wings, with most of the civic body’s senior officials and workers from other branches joining them, along with the sanitation workers and their union.
Although officials and workers were present at MCG offices, official work was not carried out as they gathered in a garden on the MCG’s Sector 34 office premises.
A senior MCG official, requesting anonymity, said that additional commissioner Rohtash Bishnoi, on behalf of MCG commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja, requested a group of officials and workers’ union to visit the commissioner at his camp office in Civil Lines to discuss the matter but they refused.
“The union and officials wanted the MCG commissioner to come to the Sector 34 office to discuss the matter. However, the commissioner did not visit MCG office,” the official said.
Ahuja said, “I met with both the SE and chief engineer today (Thursday), asking them to withdraw the strike. They said they will consult with other workers and their union, and get back to me. I am still awaiting their response on the matter.”
Ahuja said that he directed senior MCG officials to pacify the protesting staff by explaining that the SE could register his version of events with higher authorities and that the issue will be investigated.
“We have to obey and respect the office-bearers as they are public representatives. Further, I have directed all MCG staff members to discharge their duties as per usual and ensure no public services get affected,” said Ahuja.
Sharma, however, declined that he met the MCG commissioner. “Only the chief engineer met the MCG commissioner today (Thursday). My colleagues are aware of my working style, which is transparent and completely honest. In my support, they will be staging an indefinite protest,” Sharma said.
Azad said, “I have already given my representation to the ULB and they have, accordingly, taken action against the SE. Although I accept the protest by MCG workers and officials, regardless of their or my stance on the matter, I only request them to not do it at the public’s cost. This is an internal matter and public services should not be affected.”
Thursday’s demonstration was the first instance of a protest by MCG officials since its inception in 2008.
“The SE’s suspension was incorrect as he did not do anything wrong. He has always worked in a transparent and fair manner. We want him reinstated and from tomorrow (Friday) will carry out an indefinite strike until it is done,” TL Sharma said.
On Thursday evening, the MCG commissioner issued an order to all heads of MCG branches to maintain decorum and respect all office-bearers.
In a related issue, Ahuja stated in the order that only “members of the meetings” (MCG officials and councillors) can attend meetings about administrative matters and business of the MCG, according to the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994. This was in reference to the presence of relatives of councillors, which has been a common practice.
“There is no reason or right that relatives of councillors should be present at MCG meetings. They unnecessarily create ruckus and get into arguments. We support the MCG commissioner’s order on this and hope it paves the way for the civic body to function in a more efficient manner,” TL Sharma said.