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HC rap over garbage falls on deaf ears

Jun 02 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Ground Zero Of Sanitation Strikes Remains Filthy

On Thursday evening, the main road in the market at Gandhi Nagar in east Delhi is halfblocked by a heap of stinking garbage. Another road in Shakarpur Mandi is similarly obstructed by overflowing trash at 4.30pm. Around a kilometre awa , the plight of road users at Jheel Chowk is no less. As people gingerly step past the malodorous piles, it is easy to recall the images of the appalling, filth-filled streets during the numerous strikes by unpaid sanitation workers of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

But this is 2017, a little over a month since new corporators were elected -and a day after an irate Delhi high court warned the state government and EDMC of initiating contempt of court proceedings if the muck wasn't cleared.

“The sanitation workers get paid by contractors to dump construction debris here, and then neither that nor the everyday waste are cleared on a daily basis,“complained Baba Ratnanath, a furniture seller in Gandhi Nagar. At Jheel Chowk, Madhuri Sharma grumbled, “By evening the dhalao is overflowing because it is not properly cleared in the morning.“It seems that the people of east Delhi are destined to live a stench-filled, unhealthy life despite the high court itself expressing its anger at the dismal situation.

The widespread chaos that TOI noticed on the streets on Thursday evening contradicted EDMC's claims of daily clearance of dhalaos, in part to prevent spread of vector-borne diseases. While the main thoroughfares were cleared of municipal waste in the morning, the dumps in the inner colony markets seemed to have been ignored.

EDMC additional commissioner Vivek Pandey refuted the idea that the dumps were not cleared every day. “All dhalaos are cleaned daily at different times,“ he argued. “If somebody goes to a dhalao 10 hours after the waste has been removed, he will find the dhalao filled with garbage.“ Pandey claimed that the civic body collects 2,200 tonne of garbage from 275 dhalaos and 23 open dhalaos in east Delhi.

But it was an EDMC councillor no less -Vinod Nagar's Geeta Rawat of Aam Aadmi Party -who came across garbage strewn in West Vinod Nagar and was told it had not been picked up for several days.“The officer that Rawat called assured her that the garbage would be removed, but it has not been done till now,“ pointed out Mukesh Kumar, a builder.

The Vinod Nagar dhalao was cleaned at 4pm, but a stone's throw away, a garbage pile had resulted in waterlogging. A swarm of mosquitoes buzzed in the air. “No anti-larva was sprayed and we fear the mosquitoes will cause dengue and chikungunya,“ said Vipin Jha, a social activist who lives in the flat next to this eyesore.

Pandey reiterated that monsoon officers were constantly monitoring the spread of mosquitos, but the work to desilt the drain and thus prevent waterlogging is not going well. Safique Khan, who owns a shop near Laxmi Nagar metro station, said the silt dredged from a drain last week has not been removed from the spot. “We even offered the sanitation workers incentives to take away the silt, but nothing happened,“ added Wasim Khan, an eatery owner.