About 1.5 lakh employees of the three municipal corporations of Delhi have been on strike from 27th January to 8th February in support of their demand for a permanent settlement of their issues of salary and arears due to them. Sanitation employees, clerical staff, supervisory staff, school teachers and employees, doctors, nurses and other hospital employees, employees of parks and forests, engineering staff and employees of several other departments have participated in the strike. The striking employees have demonstrated against the central government, state government and all three municipal corporations.
According to the striking employees, their problems got exacerbated with the trifurcation of the MCD in 2012. This is why they are demanding the re-unification of the three corporations.
The central government and Delhi government have granted loans of Rs.300 crores and Rs.551 crores respectively to the east and north corporation to assuage the anger of the striking employees. These loans cannot be permanent solutions to the problems of salary and delay in settlement of arrears. While they withdrew the strike on 8th February, the striking employees gave a call that their struggle would go on till the re-unification of the three corporations.
The doctors, nurses and health workers of the MCD hospitals who have been on strike, have demanded that these hospitals be brought under the Delhi government. The government of Delhi has promised to look into this demand. The doctors and nurses withdrew their strike on the promise of timely payment of salaries made by the Union Ministry of Health, Delhi government’s Health Department and the mayors of the municipal corporations.
This is not the first of such strikes in the MCD. Previously too, sanitation workers, doctors, nurses and various others have struck work.
MCD is the country’s second biggest provider of services to the public. The MCD provides services from birth until death of a citizen, including services on a daily basis over his lifetime.
Delhi is a centrally administered territory besides being a state. Three arms of the municipality here – the MCD, NMDC, and Delhi Cantonment Board. NMDC and the Cantonment Board cover 3 % and 2 % of the population respectively, whereas the MCD covers 95% of the population amongst its 3 corporation – South Delhi Municipal Corporation, East Delhi Municipal Corporation and North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The principal mandate of the 3 corporations are – to clean the city and clear the garbage, to enable the health services, to prevent epidemics, to organise for primary schooling, to provide lighting in the streets and gullies, to take care of the parks and forests, to provide for public toilets, to make and maintain the roads inside colonies, to construct bridges and pavements, to provide for public cleanliness and so on.
In return for services provided, the municipal corporations collects tax and fees from the residents, such as the property tax, transfer fees, escrow account conversion fee, electricity tax, one-time parking charge, advertisement tax, building request fees, vehicle parking fees, license fees (for factories, sale of food, sale of all things), toll tax, etc.
Delhi’s citizens live in one geographical area. However, there are several agencies providing services and amenities due to them, and their management is under Delhi government and Central government. The same set of services are provided, but by different agencies and therefore of different quality too. One type of work and responsibilities, and still appointments and salaries are different. take the example of some services, like the health service that is provided by the Delhi government, Delhi’s 3 MCDs, the NMDC and the cantonment board and the central government.
If you take school education, then MCD provides primary education, but Delhi government provides secondary to higher secondary education. The question is posed that if Delhi is a state, then why so many agencies to provide services to the citizens?
Health services, education, drinking water, sanitation, cleaning, amenities for citizens, transport, electricity, universal public distribution system, etc. are all fundamental rights of people. It is to be noted, that despite Delhi being the nation’s capital, its masses of citizens do not have access to such essential services. The ruling class wants to divert people’s attention from this point that it has failed to provide for these basic services. Therefore, the central government, Delhi government and the MCD keep accusing each other.
Neither the central government nor the Delhi government nor the MCD has paid any heed to the demands of the people for better quality of services or the demand of the employees that their problems be solved.
In the present context of privatisation and liberalisation, the big bourgeoisie is looking at the services to be provided to citizens as a source of profit. It is pursuit of this course that electricity, water, public transport and so on are being privatised. When in 2012 the MCD was trifurcated, it was accompanied by the propaganda that these services would be provided efficiently if they were to be privatised. Various departments have been privatised to secure the profits of the capitalists. Corruption was very deliberately allowed to go on so that people would eventually not oppose privatisation.
MCD is a milk cow. The bourgeoisie’s political parties, like the Congress, BJP and other parties have used money like water to take control over the Corporation. Their candidates for the municipal corporation have spent up to Rs.one crore for each ward. The purpose was not to service the people, no! The purpose was to earn the huge moneys spent with interest.
For the government, the provision of sanitation and hygiene, healthy environment, health services and education is of a low priority. it always cries that it does not have the money to pay the employees their wages or to improve the services to be provided to the public.
Post the 2012 trifurcation, one could not see any corruption free efficiency in the Corporation, but the problems started multiplying. Whatever the hidden purpose of the trifurcation was surely fulfilled. Various works of various departments were contracted out to private entities for their benefit, and there is no doubt that this benefitted the corporators who handed out the contracts.
Today, the citizens of Delhi and the employees of the Corporation are paying the price of the rampant corruption. In the words of ditcher, “there is corruption here from top to bottom. From the time of joining till we are made permanent, we have to bribe people in our own departments to move our files from one table to another.” the employees of the North MCD report that they have to pay bribes or “use influence" for getting paid what is overdue.
The central and Delhi government have only offered some temporary relief by loaning funds to the MCD; they have not looked into the just demands of the employees in an attempt to find a lasting solution to their concerns. Both the Central and Delhi governments are silent on the demand of the employees for re-unification of the MCD.
|The MCD workers are continuously demanding the following demands since 2012:|