VIJAYAWADA: With the municipal sanitation workers’ strike entering the fourth day on Monday, the streets of Vijayawada are stinking. The civic body with skeletal staff is facing a mammoth task of clearing 550 metric tonnes of garbage on an average per day.
They are able to clear even 60 per cent of the garbage a day and as the days pass, the garbage pile-up is only increasing and the situation is getting worse. Even as both the public and the civic officials want the strike to end, the agitating sanitation workers have decided to intensify their agitation, with no response from the government.
Earlier in the day, the agitating sanitation workers took out a protest rally from Tummalapalli Kalakshetram to the Collector’s Camp Office, where they staged a dharna shouting anti-establishment slogans for a couple of hours. As there was no assurance from the government, they decided to stage a ‘rasta roko’ at the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) Office on Tuesday.
On an average, the city generates 550 metric tonnes of garbage every day and this goes up on festive occasions. VMC employs around 3,500 people to clear the garbage, canals and drains. Among them, only some 800 are regular employees while the remaining 2800 are hired help (outsourced or contract employees). It has 10 dumping yards, three cargo vehicles, five 10-tyred vehicles and six small tippers,. It also hires six to seven tractors from time to time for transporting the slit taken out from the drains in the city. Several tricycles are employed for door-to-door garbage collection.
The collected garbage is first taken to Excel Plant at Ajit Singh Nagar, before being transported to the dumping yard at Jakkampudi on the city outskirts. Three months back, when the garbage transport vehicle drivers went for a flash strike, the city stank for four days. VMC health department officials said though the situation was not alarming this time round as it was during the previous strike, the city could stink more if the antiation workers’ strike was not resolved fortwith. They said that people were worried that if it rained now, the garbage-filled streets could stink more and lead to te outbreak of various diseases.
When contacted, VMC health department officials said they were making every effort to clear the garbage. Some 50 per cent to 60 per cent of the regular municipal workers were striving to clear the garbage. Special teams with 10-15 workers had been formed to act as emergency garbage clearing force, they added .
VMC Commissioner G Veerapandiya appealed to the Vijayawada citizens to cooperate with the corporation in the present crisis and put the garbages from their houses and localities in the garbage dumps and not throw them on the roadside. The recently- inducted road cleaning machines were working overtime to keep the main thoroughfares clean, he added.
The civic body has now decided to rope in NGOs, residential welfare associations, NCC and NSS volunteers from different colleges in the city to help in sanitation works. It has even opened a 24x7 Control Room (phone number - 0866-2422515), so that people can alert the municipal officials if garbage piles up high in their localities. On receipt of such complaints, special teams will rush to the area concerned and clear the piled-up garbage dumps immediately.