Garbage politics in Delhi at whose cost?

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By Vikas Khanna

New Delhi, Feb.1 (ANI): As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) indulge in blame game over non-payment of salaries of municipal workers, it is Delhi which is paying a heavy price.

Nobody knows who is speaking the truth or who is lying, but the fact is that the people of Delhi are being made to suffer. In this tussle of one upmanship between the BJP and the AAP, politicians have been playing with the lives of the people. Politicians should hang their heads in shame for stooping so low just only to belittle their rivals. Whosoever is behind this crass kind of politics is the worst enemy of humankind!

Keeping the city clean is the job of the municipal corporation. When it can’t do its job properly, then questions will be raised about the need of such a money guzzler body. Will Delhi not be better off if the job of cleanliness is outsourced to a private party which will be answerable? There is no doubt that the municipal corporation is plagued with corruption, and presided over by inept officials. There are a large number of ghost employees who are in cahoots with corrupt higher officials and drawing monthly salaries. Then, there are many registered employees who have outsourced their work to poor rag pickers and are doing side business. One gets to see the so-called MCD employee during important festivals like Diwali and Holi when they drop in to demand “bakshish”. A close scrutiny of the corporation books will unmask the ugly and corrupt accounting practices.

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Never before has Delhi witnessed such a culture of MCD employees dumping garbage at important intersections of the city? And, this time, it became dirtier when the protesting employees deposited heaps of garbage outside the residences of government ministers to express their anger. Their anguish is understandable. Running the house without getting salaries for months is not a joke. And that too, when prices of essential commodities are hitting the roof! “Achche Din” is nothing but a “jumla” for them. What do you say, Mr. Amit Shah?

Going on strike is the fundamental right of municipal employees when the state fails them. But, it would have been better had they opted for some other novel method. Delhi generates roughly 9,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. If this is not collected for days together, one can understand the amount of garbage littered across the city. It is unhygienic for the city. Uncollected garbage poses serious health hazards which can cause outbreaks of various diseases. And these diseases can strike anybody, including sanitation workers and their families. Therefore, this practice of protest should best be avoided.

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One must complement the Public Works Department, Delhi Jal Board and the volunteers of AAP who came forward to clean the city. Had the garbage not been cleared and rains had come, the situation could have been very grave. Here again, politics came to the fore with the BJP terming it a photo-op act by AAP functionaries. The BJP forgets that Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wielded a broom in Delhi’s Valmiki Colony and a spade in Varanasi at the ghats of the Ganges as part of his “Swatch Bharat Abhiyan”. Was that also a political stunt then? Unlike the Prime Minister, who did “shram daan” only for a few minutes before a battery of cameramen and photographers, the AAP volunteers were seen collecting the stinking garbage.

The BJP could have escaped the censure had it taken the initiative. All the three municipal corporations are ruled by the BJP. And, if the sanitation workers stopped work, the BJP, which claims to be the world’s largest political party among the democratic countries, could have asked its volunteers to do the job and contribute to the Prime Minister’s “Swatch Bharat Abhiyan”. Sadly, the BJP’s refrain is — will not do anything and not let others do it as well.

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Delhi has been suffering since the BJP was decimated by the rookie party in last year’s elections. The people of Delhi are being punished for voting overwhelmingly for the AAP. The BJP will do well not to resort to the “revenge” politics. Not only did it face ignominious defeat in Delhi, it had to bite the dust in Bihar as well. The forthcoming elections in four states and a union territory also don’t seem to bring any good news for the country’s ruling party. The country needs development and not garbage. And stinking politics will only sink the party which practices it.

Vikas Khanna is a senior journalist and the views expressed by him are personal (ANI)

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