Millennium Post

Shouldn’t charity begin at home?

Mongolia and Mangolpuri are vastly different demographics. On one hand, Mongolia is a cool, serene and otherworldly paradise where Marco Polo settled temporarily and broke bread with the Emperor Kublai Khan. On the other hand, Mangolpuri’s a place where fear lurks in dingy by-lanes and narrow alleys. Although shocking incidents in the past have prompted police to strengthen its presence in Mangolpuri, the area still remains a hotbed of crime. While Prime Minister Modi has a billion dollars to extend to Mongolia, he does not have much to give to Mangolpuri. A scary and very real health crisis has loomed like a dark cloud over the capital, with tons and tons of waste, everything ranging from the hair cut in barber salons to food plates which attract flies and vermins aplenty. About 15,000 tonnes of waste has been dumped by the roadside and in residential areas and 12,000 sanitation workers are refusing to work unless their salaries are paid in full. 

The workers are on a strike since June 2 to protest against non-payment salary dues, leading to piling of garbage on the streets, which is causing inconvenience to residents. Both North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) are cash-strapped, unable to pay salaries of many employees. Matters have not been helped by the fact that the sweltering summer heat has acted like a giant cauldron, in which this rotting garbage has stewed and emanated noxious fumes. This scenario is a direct result of thousands of <g data-gr-id="50">safai</g> <g data-gr-id="51">karamcharis</g> not being paid in two months. 

Let us take a moment to empathize with their plight here. Here is a community of workers who come in at the crack of dawn and ensure that Delhi’s street remain clean despite a glut of litter being strewn around the previous day. They do the toughest jobs possible and in turn get paid zilch. In the political bickering and turf war between the Aam Aadmi Party and the Modi government, it is the average sanitation worker and the common man walking on the street who suffered. This scenario would have continued had it not been for the timely intervention by the Delhi High Court. One Friday the Delhi High Court directed the ruling AAP government here to release the salary dues of the <g data-gr-id="49">east</g> MCD employees by June 15. As the foul stench grew around the garbage decomposing in the summer heat so did the politics around the issue. In a not so surprising move, Rahul Gandhi met the protesting workers on Friday and attacked both the Centre and the State government. Extending support to agitating sanitation workers in the city, Rahul Gandhi on Friday vociferously attacked the Centre and Delhi Government, accusing them of making only tall promises and shirking responsibility when it comes to public service delivery. 

This was a shrewd move on Rahul Gandhi’s part as he can pinpoint to the fact that Delhi had no such garbage crisis under the Sheila Dikshit administration and thus lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Bharatiya Janata Party led Union Government and the AAP government.  During all this hue and cry, Najeeb Jung announced that Rs 493 crore would be released to the civic bodies today itself to cover the dues. The Lt Governor also appealed to the mayors to persuade the employees to call off the strike in the interest of the residents of Delhi. There is a deep residual stink that emanates from this whole saga. 

A city was brought to its knees because its rulers were busy feuding between themselves. Mangolpuri may not be an important constituency for Prime Minister Modi given that it has traditionally never voted for the BJP. This may seem like opprobrium, but it’s essential that the citizens of Delhi receive fair and just treatment from the elected representatives. It really does not matter if those elected representatives live in Race Course road or Kaushambi, Ghaziabad. This garbage crisis is the latest reminder that the bitter and heated turf war between the Centre and the city-state must end. If this crisis is not solved before the rains hit Delhi, then very soon we will see garbage floating on the streets instead of lying on the street. In order to mitigate such a worst case scenario, timely resolution is needed.
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