Mosquito breeding workers go on strike in Delhi

The strike comes at a time the city is experiencing an early spread of the dengue virus this year.

delhi Updated: Mar 14, 2018 23:22 IST
Vibha Sharma
Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times
mosquito breeding,dengue,malaria
The DBC workers said they decided to go on a strike as their long-standing demands of regularisation, leave, provident funds, bonus and other medical facilities haven’t been met.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

Efforts to control mosquito-borne diseases have hit a roadblock with around 3,500 domestic breeding checkers (DBCs) – daily wagers who check mosquito breeding in localities – going on an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday.

The strike comes at a time the city is experiencing an early spread of the dengue virus this year.

Till March 3, hospitals tracked by the South Corporation reported 15 cases of dengue, five more than what was reported during the same time last year, when the mosquito-borne disease infected 9,271 people and killed 10.

The DBC workers said they decided to go on a strike as their long-standing demands of regularisation, leave, provident funds, bonus and other medical facilities haven’t been met.

“Over 1,000 DBC workers are working with MCD since 1996. Whenever we go on strike, the corporations agree to meet our demands but as the situation becomes normal, the officials stop entertaining us,” said Devanand Sharma, a member of the Anti-Malaria Ekta Karamchari Union.

To sort out the matter, the additional commissioners and municipal health officers of the north, south and east corporations met workers’ representatives on Tuesday but no conclusion was reached, the DBC workers said.

“Last year, everything was finalised during a joint meeting chaired by former north corporation commissioner PK Gupta. The officials agreed to give us casual, maternity and medical leaves in addition to gazetted holidays. They even assured to initiate the process to regularise us,” said Sharma.

The DBCs visit 60 to 70 houses every day to check if coolers, overhead tanks and flower pots have stagnant water that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the dengue or malaria virus.

“The three civic agencies are just fooling us. If south is promising us to give one benefit, north is assuring for other and east for another,” said Pradeep Kumar, a DBC worker with South Corporation.

The SDMC’s municipal health officers BK Hazarika said the DBCs already get various benefits. “We are giving them holidays and approved employee provident fund as well,” he said.

“But it won’t be possible to regularise them. As per the Centre’s circular, no contractual staff can be regularised,” said a SDMC official.

A north corporation official said that the contract period of DBC workers will get over by March 31. “After that only we will take decision for providing them any benefits,” he said.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 23:22 IST