New Delhi: Over 1.5 lakh workers of Delhi's three main civic bodies went on a three-day strike on Wednesday over non-payment of salary -- a development that could cripple essential services like sanitation in the national capital.
Taking a serious note of the situation that has also occurred earlier leading to roads being strewn with garbage, the Delhi High Court issued notice to the central and the Delhi governments, and the civic bodies.
About 20 unions of the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi, which include doctors, engineers, gardeners, sanitation workers and others, staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar protest site in the heart of the capital.
The court order came after the workers decided to go on a three-day strike over non-payment of dues. It was hearing a petition seeking the release of salaries of municipal workers.
A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath also directed the Delhi Police to ensure that sanitation workers do not face any difficulty in their job.
The court sought the response of the Delhi government, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, East Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Development Authority by the next date of hearing on February 2.
"Many workers have not been paid for two to four months. Our arrears are long pending. So all the employees of three MCDs are on a three-day strike from Wednesday," Rajendra Mewati, president of Akhil Bharaitya Safai Majdoor Congress told IANS.
"We will go on an definite strike and litter roads if our demands are not met," he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled municipal corporations report to the Centre and do not come under the city government. However, they receive a part of their funds from the Centre and Delhi government.
Non-payment of salaries of the MCD employees has brought the AAP government and the BJP-controlled civic bodies at loggerheads with the latter accusing the former of deliberately withholding funds.
According to a civic official, it takes around Rs.500 crore to pay the salaries of all the employees of the three civic bodies.
Reacting to the development, Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra maintained that the city government had cleared its payments.
"An atmosphere is being created by the BJP to insult the image of Delhi.
"The three mayors of municipal corporation of Delhi have already given it in writing that the Delhi government has given all the money to pay the salary of sanitation workers," Mishra said.
"We have released Rs.892 crore to the North MCD, Rs.465 crore to East MCD, and Rs.668 crore to South MCD. Who has pocketed the money," he asked.
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said the municipal corporations shall file contempt petition against the Delhi government for failing to release funds and thus comply with the orders of the Delhi High Court related to the implementation of the 4th Finance Commission.