Pradip Bhandari, the CEO and Founder, and Akriti Bhatia, co-Founder of Jan Ki Baat, visited Geeta Colony in East Delhi to assess the implications of the strike by the sanitation workers of the city. Interviewing a number of people working in the area, Jan Ki Baat found the abysmal living as well working conditions of the workers of the sanitation department. A snacks-seller pointed out the obvious concern for his business: the stink from the garbage dump driving away potential clientele. A fruit-seller claimed that before the strike, the cleaning routine took place once in 3-4 days, hinting at the seriousness of the issue. The chance of dieses spreading is greater, when such reports are taken into consideration.
A sanitation worker, dragging away the garbage in a large bag with bare hands, threw light on the issue. The worker, 10 years already into the job, admitted that gloves were provided but they were ill-fitted and only acted as a hindrance in the task they were performing, forcing them to do away with them. Without professional gloves and masks, the possibility of a spike in the contraction of diseases is greater, not only for the residents of the colony but also, the sanitation workers living and working in the area. Moreover, a large garbage mound is also next to a Baal Chikistalaya and may contribute to adverse effects on the patients.
The sanitation employees of East Delhi went on a strike, nearly a month ago, to protest against their blocked salaries. They hadnt been paid for two months now, leading to disruptions in their private lives and forcing them to take action.
The absence of safety measures and health standards aside, the strike must be seen in its political aspect. Bhandari points out the role of the Delhi MLA in this problem, noting that the residents have elected the MLA, who is answerable to them. The Delhi government should have addressed the problem by now. If the issue was only about the distribution of salaries, it wouldve been a technical glitch but the issue has resurfaced, for the 3rd time since 2016, indicating that the Corporation may be financially strained. The Fourth State Financial Commission, headed by C G Chinnaswamy, reported in 2016 that Municipal Corporations have to collaborate with the State government and its public health policies in cases of public health services. This also meant that financial accountability lies with the State government, if the Centre is unable to deal with the issue. Satya Sharma, the mayor of East Corporation, believes that if the recommendations of the Commissions report were implemented, the MCD wouldve gotten 4928 crores which are due since 2012. What the government decided to do (or not do) remains to be seen.