For paying pending wages of sanitation workers who are on strike since Sept 12
The Delhi government on Wednesday offered in the Supreme Court to release ₹500 crore to pay the pending wages of sanitation workers in the Capital as garbage crisis spun out of control.
The apex court’s intervention came in the backdrop of the prolonged strike of sanitation workers of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation since September 12.
Heaps of garbage lie strewn around on the roads of east Delhi, threatening to trigger a public health crisis.
Strike gains momentum
The workers’ demands include regular pay and clearance of dues and regularisation of about 3,000 contractual labourers enrolled since 1998.
The strike, meanwhile, gains momentum and threatens to spread to other parts of Delhi.
The Centre and Lieutenant-Governor, represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, has been given time till October 8 to get instructions and report back to the court whether the Centre can spare a similar amount for the sanitation workers.
Court will not intervene
The three-judge Bench led by Madan B. Lokur said the court would not intervene with how the Delhi government spends its ₹500 crore on the workers.
“That is left to the discretion of the Delhi government. How much, who to give and in what portions, etc., will be decided by the Delhi government,” Justice Lokur orally observed for the Bench, also comprising Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta.
Mr. Singh, for the Centre, argued that there is already a Delhi High Court order putting the responsibility on the Delhi government to pay the workers.
“They are in non-compliance of the order… this order [of the Supreme Court] should not be used to defend their non-compliance of the High Court order,” the Additional Solicitor General submitted.
Mr. Singh submitted that the money collected as direct tax is with the Delhi government and can be used to pay the sanitation workers. “We are not blaming anyone… release some money in the larger interest of Delhi,” the court said.
The court also heard the South Delhi, East and North Delhi Municipal Corporations on this issue. The Capital produces 10,200 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) of municipal solid waste.