Garbage started to pile up in East Delhi on Saturday as the strike by municipal sanitation workers carried on for a second day, with no solution in sight as the civic body struggles with lack of funds.

The workers went on strike on Friday to demand regularisation, arrears and cash-less medical insurance, all of which the East Delhi Municipal Corporation is unlikely to give. Some safai karamchariunions threatened to expand their agitation to North and South Delhi as well, but the protests remained largely confined to East Delhi.

The effect of the strike started to show on Saturday with dhalaos or garbage dumps not being cleared. With most residential areas relying on private door-to-door collection, neighbourhoods were largely clean.

“The trash will start to overflow onto the streets when the dhalaos get full. Once again, average citizens will suffer as the municipal corporations and the Delhi Government pass the blame,” said B.S. Vohra, the president of the East Delhi RWAs Joint Front Federation.

Workers, however, said they were left with no choice as their demands had not been met for years. A similar strike was called in June, when trash lined the streets of Delhi as salaries were being delayed for months.

“Last time we were given false promises that have not come true. How do the families of poor workers celebrate Diwali if their benefits are withheld,” asked Rajendra Mewati, the general secretary of the United Front of MCD Unions.

As part of their agitation, workers held a protest outside the EDMC’s Shahdara (South) Zone office and burnt an effigy of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The various unions have planned a meeting next week to decide on whether to escalate their protests.

Meanwhile, officials of the EDMC said that they were trying to carry out cleaning despite the strike.

“The workers are being given salaries on time now. But the arrears for our employees is to the tune of Rs.400 crore, which we cannot afford to pay,” said a senior EDMC official.

The South and North Delhi civic bodies said sanitation work carried on as usual on Saturday, though there were reports of garbage accumulating at dhalaos. But officials said that was due to the holiday for Muharram, when the staff strength is anyway less.

with thanks : The Hindu : LINK