Patna: In protest against the government, striking Grade 4 daily-wage employees of PMC, including safai karamcharis, threw dead animals outside the main gate of the official residence of Bihar Urban Development Minister Suresh Sharma on February 6. The Patna Municipal Corporation workers, who have been striking work for four days, also threw garbage outside the residence of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey and on both sides of the road leading to the official residence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Earlier, the striking workers threw garbage, rotten fish and dead animals on the roads which lead to the corporation offices and the office of Patna's Mayor.
Interestingly, both Sharma and Pandey are senior BJP leaders and Mayor Sita Sahu is also from the BJP.
With the state government not ready to fulfill the demands of thousands of striking workers, the strike entered its fourth day, which has badly hit cleaning of garbage, waste and sweeping works in the city. Heaps of stinking garbage can be seen all around Patna.
The workers are protesting against the state government's decision to remove them instead of regularising their jobs, which had been their demand for a long time. Despite repeated verbal assurances by top government officers, striking Grade 4 daily wagers, including sanitation workers, are adamant that they will not relent till their demands are fulfilled.
Meanwhile, in a bid to increase pressure on the striking workers, PMC authorities have lodged FIR in Kotwali police station against six leaders of different unions of the workers for instigating and creating problems in official works. Those named in the FIR including PMC Karamchari Union president Chandra Prajash Singh, Nigam Chaturth Vargiya Karamchari Sangh general secretary Nand Kishor Das and other leaders including Ramyatan Prasad, Neeraj Kumar, Arjun Prasad and Satish Mishra.
The Patna administration has also decided to provide police security to the cleaning workers hired by the PMC to clear tonnes of garbage amid apprehension of attack or assault by the striking workers. There are reports that angry striking workers had chased away administrative staff when they reached the office along with hired labourers to take auto-tippers for cleaning work on Wednesday night.
Following this, Urban Development Department (UDD) officials said that action will be initiated against striking daily wage sanitation workers for creating hurdles or hampering official work. The strike began on Monday, February 3 after the UDD on the basis of an order from the office of Lokayukta, directed all urban municipal bodies in the state including the PMC to stop engaging daily wage workers in group D and outsource staff from February 1.
Since the first day of the strike, which began on Monday, large parts of Patna have been reeking of trash. Garbage and filth could be seen scattered and dumped all around except in some VIP localities. Door-to-door waste and garbage collection in residential localities, market places and offices has totally stopped.
Chandra Prakash Singh, one of the leaders of the striking unions, said that the UDD is hell bent on outsourcing Patna's cleaning service to few private agencies to benefit some people. "We have been demanding them to regularise all 4,500 workers engaged as daily wage workers. However, the government is against poor daily wage workers,” he added.
About 90% of ward councillors of PMC are also in favour of regularisation of jobs of daily wage workers engaged in cleaning work.
The agitating workers said that hundreds of them have been working for the last 10 years on a daily-wage basis in the hope that the government will regularise their job. The sanitation workers said that they were the real players behind the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan but were mostly left in the lurch.
The latest reports indicate that sanitation workers in all 143 municipal units in Bihar have also joined strike.