MCDs face cash crunch, sanitation workers missing amid lockdown

New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) With three municipal corporations in Delhi facing cash crunch and a large number of sanitation workers missing from work, city residents staying indoors amid the nationwide lockdown fear dark days ahead on the cleanliness and sanitation front.

The MCs of North, South and East Delhi have witnessed shortage of sanitation workers ever since the lockdown was imposed on March 24 midnight, leaving sanitation and cleanliness in the hands of very few men and women staff.

“The state government owes us about Rs 8,000 crore, once they pay up, we can function with full power. But even if they pay us Rs 500 crore only, we can get better equipment for safety and sanitation purposes,” EDMC Mayor Anju Kamal Kant told IANS.

Anju claimed that they have utilised budget allocated to health and earning plan heads to acquire PPE kits, gloves and masks for health staff but at least Rs 500 crore more was needed.

Similar views were expressed by North Delhi MC Mayor Avtar Singh who claimed that the civic body is yet to pay two-month salaries to its sanitation workers as the state government was yet to given it Rs 1,000 crore.

“I want to do more for MC workers — we have thanked them, but unfortunately have not paid them for two months. But somehow, we are trying to maintain sanitation in the capital city,” Avtar Singh said.

The South Delhi MC Mayor claimed that they too were yet to receive funds from the state government.

Sanitation workers have also raised concerns over their safety amid the coronavirus scare. “We don’t have any PPE kits for workers at dump yards or even gloves and masks when we clean the city,” Sanjay Gahlot, president of sanitation workers’ union said.

He maintained that the shortage of sanitation workers in Delhi was due to sealed inter-state borders, with police not allowing sanitation workers to enter the national capital.

“We are ready to work, but most workers come from across the Delhi borders and they are not being allowed in during the lockdown,” Gahlot added.

Meanwhile, residents of various Delhi areas complained of garbage piles. If the MCDs and the state government do not come on the same page, sanitation in the city might collapse, they warned.

“This is not the time for politics. The state government must release funds for the MCDs. In the time of crisis, coordination is the least the two sides can do,” Atul Goyal, President of URJA (umbrella body of 2500 RWAs in Delhi) said.

“In various areas you can see garbage has started to pile up. If the situation is not controlled soon, we may lose grip over it,” Goyal added.

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