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Sanitation workers in Delhi call off the strike after 12 days

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New Delhi: Sanitation workers in east and north Delhi called off their strike on Friday after the Delhi government released their salary arrears, even as political parties indulged in a blame game for the piles of waste lying on the streets that has caused concerns about a possible outbreak of diseases.

The strike ended on the day the Delhi High Court directed the city government to immediately release funds to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation for payment of salaries to its employees.

Earlier in the day, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met sanitation workers on strike for the past 12 days to express his solidarity with them.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Sanjay Singh and Dilip Pandey held a press conference in the afternoon and said that the Arvind Kejriwal government had released the funds for payment of pending salaries of sanitary workers.

“We had released Rs.513 crore instead of Rs.493 crore to pay the salaries of North and East Municipal Corporation employees before the high court’s order came,” said AAP leader Dilip Pandey.

The announcement to pay salary arrears to sanitation staff had been made by Kejriwal at a rally in Delhi on May 8.

Hours after the release of funds was announced, the Akhil Bhartiya Safai Mazdoor Sangh, to which sanitation workers are affiliated, said that the strike was called off.

“We got to know that the Delhi government has released Rs.513 crore towards our salaries. So, we have decided to call off the strike. Sanitation workers will be back on work from tomorrow (Saturday),” Sangh president Krishnapal Parcha told IANS.

“Delhi will be cleaned in just three days after we resume work,” he added.

Parcha said over 10,000 sanitation workers were on strike for the last 12 days over the issue of non-payment of their salaries.

A civic body official confirmed that the strike was called off.

“The sanitation workers have called of their strike and decided to resume work from tomorrow. The areas of the national capital, where garbage was lying on the roads, will be cleaned in a day or two,” the official told IANS.

The sanitation workers from east and north municipal corporations had complained that they had not been given salaries for the last two months.

The strike had badly impacted the system of garbage collection in Delhi with piles of household waste spilling on roads.

At places, the strewn garbage stretched to several metres with even vehicles getting stuck. Citizens expressed concern at the possibility of breakout of diseases.

There were also reports of workers deliberately spilling garbage on the roads to register their protest in Mayur Vihar and Patparganj areas.

“For the past 10 days, drains have been overflowing and garbage has spilled on the road. We are not eating outside and staying mostly indoors to save ourselves from any possible disease,” said Sanjay Sharma, a resident of east Delhi.

The national capital, on an average produces 8,630 tonnes per day of municipal solid waste, according to Delhi’s Department of Environment.

In its decision, the Delhi High Court asked the Delhi government to release Rs.493 crore for the pending payment of MCD employees.

Rahul Gandhi met the agitating sanitation workers at the East Delhi Municipal Corporation headquarters in Patparganj and accused the central and Delhi governments of “not showing concern” for their welfare.

AAP leaders also expressed concern at “ghost employees” in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and sought an inquiry.

“There are as many as 22,000 ghost employees in the MCD. They do not exist but their salary is drawn. I have no hesitation in saying that the MCD is the most corrupt institution in the world,” Pandey alleged.

Another AAP leader Sanjay Singh accused the BJP of “converting Delhi into a garbage dump”.

“Don’t punish people of Delhi for voting in our favour,” he said.

BJP leader R.P. Singh said that the central government cannot be blamed for delay in payment of salary arrears of sanitation workers and accused the AAP of not governing Delhi properly. (IANS)

Next Story

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)

One response to “Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?”

  1. If the employment picture is bleak despite the construction of so many more Kilometers of roads, railways, air ports, bridges, toilets and other infrastructures compared to the five or even ten years of UPA government, imagine where we would be if we had UPA III government .