NEW DELHI: The North and the East municipal bodies have accused the Delhi government of reducing their grants worth over Rs 400 crore meant for providing salaries to sanitation staff and ensuring sanitation facilities in slums.An estimated Rs 410 crore, which was earlier given as grants in the plan outlay of the previous budget, was reduced to zero in this fiscal’s budget plan outlay of the two civic bodies. Mukesh Goel, a senior Congress leader in the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, has highlighted the major cut of Rs 200 crore made in the salary section of sanitation staff. “The Delhi government is just making a fool out of sanitation workers by saying it wants to help them. But instead, it is making the corporation financially weaker by not including this amount in the budget for the financial year 2018-19,” he said.
Delhi has a total of 272 wards spread across North, South and East Delhi municipal corporations. The three were formed after the division of the then unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in 2012.
So acute is the situation that even the Delhi High Court had told the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government that it might ask the Centre to directly release funds to the civic bodies if additional finances were not provided.
Despite sanitation being the primary duty of a municipal corporation, both north and east civic bodies have had issues when it comes to disbursing salaries of sanitation staff. Recently, about 10,000 sanitation staff of the north civic body went on a strike demanding their due arrears and regularization of jobs.
Instead, a grant of about Rs 200 crore was done away with in the planned outlay of the budget meant for constructions of roads and sanitation facilities at slum clusters in areas falling under the two civic bodies.
“There are around 2,000 sanitation workers who are on contractual basis in north and around 3,000 in east. In the north civic body, the total sanitation staff strength is 25,000. It is around 15,000 in the east civic body. If such a substantial amount of money is removed from the plan of the budget 2018-19, it is definitely unfair. The municipal corporations are already under a lot of financial stress," said a senior civic body official.