NEW DELHI: Around 15,000 sanitation workers on Friday called off their 12-day-long strike, averting a looming health crisis hours after Lt Governor Najeeb Jung announced to release 493 crore for their salaries.
The municipal corporations said all the striking sanitation workers had returned to work and heaps of garbage across East Delhi and in some other parts of the city were being removed on an emergency basis.
Heaps of garbage have been rotting on roads and bylanes, particularly in east Delhi, raising stink and health concerns as frustrated citizens voiced their anger against the authorities. A spokesman for East Delhi Municipal Corporation said on an average 2,000 to 2,200 metric tonnes of garbage are daily generated.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said around Rs 500 crore have already been released to municipal corporations to pay the salaries of their employees.
“All the MCD workers will be paid their salaries by 10th of every month and their pending dearness allowance arrears will be cleared within a week,” said a top official.
Mayors of three BJP-ruled municipal bodies called on Jung and requested his intervention after which he said Delhi government has already decided to release Rs 493 crore. MCD officials said all the regularised sanitation workers will be paid their money for their uniform within a week besides fulfilling other demands.
The Delhi High Court on Friday observed that sanitation workers cannot be expected to work for free and directed the city government to ensure immediate release of funds to East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to pay May’s pending dues to the employees.
“We have gone past promises. People on ground are suffering. Why should they work without salary?” the court asked and issued a slew of directions to immediately clear the garbage which has been piling up on the streets due to a strike by the workers. A Bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice I S Mehta directed the Commissioner of Police to constitute specific task forces to be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector to oversee ward-wise garbage removal right away.
It also restrained the associations of safai karamchaaris from obstructing removal of garbage from dumps, which has been outsourced to private agencies.
The court directed the city government, Chief Secretary and Urban Development Secretary to hold a meeting with the EDMC Commissioner on Saturday morning and decide the amount required for payment.