Sanitation workers’ protest in Gurugram raises a stink
Police on Monday had to detain 21 leaders of the workers’ union and sanitation workers for allegedly assaulting employees of Ecogreen Energy --- the concessionaire engaged by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) for waste management --- to stop them from picking up garbage
Sanitation workers dumped 1,300 tonnes of garbage on streets across the city, punctured waste dumpers and threatened people who were trying to clear the waste dumped on main carriageways on Wednesday while continuing with their ongoing protest.
Police on Monday had to detain 21 leaders of the workers’ union and sanitation workers for allegedly assaulting employees of Ecogreen Energy --- the concessionaire engaged by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) for waste management --- to stop them from picking up garbage. The workers, police said, had damaged vehicles used to collect garbage, punctured earth-moving machines and damaged other vehicles while threatening Ecogreen Energy’s employees. They were let off later the same day, police said on Monday.
As similar complaints were received on Wednesday too, the police said that they were scanning footage from 50 CCTV cameras installed around the incident sites to identify the protesters involved in dumping garbage and damaging vehicles.
According to officials, 6,000 employees and contractual workers of the MCG are on a strike till October 29 and have stopped cleaning streets, residential areas and public places. This has resulted in the pile-up of garbage in different areas.
Ram Singh, president of Nagar Nigam Safai Karamchari Sangh, a sanitation workers’ union, said their main demands are abolition of the contractual labour system, implementation of equal pay and restoration of the old pension scheme. “The government has been harsh on us, and is not ready to accept our demands. But, we will also not give up and continue to dump garbage on the streets, and not allow anyone to clear it,” he said.
Hundreds of sanitation workers on Wednesday were seen dumping garbage on roads, near markets and residential areas.
MCG joint commissioner Naresh Kumar said that the state government was busy chalking out a “plan B” to deal with the situation. He, however, did not elaborate on the details of the proposed plan.
Kumar, said he is continuously monitoring the situation to ensure that garbage dumping spots in the city are cleared each morning despite the ongoing strike. “We are taking police assistance to ensure those on strike do not hamper work ,” he said. He added that seven trucks and at least three JCB machines are being used to clear garbage from dumping spots at all major locations in the city.
Preet Pal Sangwan, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said that officers have been deployed near dumping points so that they can be cleared without disruption by the protesting workers.
Sangwan described it as an unprecedented situation in which they have to provide security to those responsible for cleaning the city. “This is an additional responsibility which we are performing right now apart from routine crime control and maintain law and order,” he said.
Gurugram generates 1,300 tonnes of garbage daily, according to MCG officials.
Residents, however, complained that they have been facing tough times as the stinking garbage dumped near the colonies has made it difficult to step out.
The condition of roads and by-lanes in the city particularly near Sadar Bazaar, Gurudwara road, Sector-12 and other neighbourhoods has remained bad for nine days now.
Dinesh Vashisht , president, Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA), Sectors 3, 5 and 6, said that the situation is “really bad”. “Garbage has been piling up in our area and after repeated complaints it was picked up on Wednesday morning. But in the evening the sanitation workers dumped garbage again,”he said.
Sudha Devi, a resident of Dhundahera, said that it has become difficult to move on the roads, as they are full of stinking garbage. “The residents had to clean the lanes themselves on Tuesday night. But someone dumped garbage again on Wednesday morning,” she said.
Mukund Agarwal, a resident of Palam Vihar Block A, said that it seems the area has not been cleaned for days. “The area feels like a garbage dump. Protesters are dumping garbage all around us and the residents are helpless,” he said.