Sanitation strike raises stink to high heavens

Sanitation strike raises stink to high heavens
Highlights

The Swachh Sarvekshan programme being taken up by the Centre is hit by the strike of sanitation staff in Telangana as they were staying away from the responsibilities for last 26 days As the strike continues, the villages stink to high heavens As many as 25,000 gram panchayat sanitation workers have been striking work since July 23 demanding a rise in salaries, granting separate funds by the gov

Hyderabad: The Swachh Sarvekshan programme being taken up by the Centre is hit by the strike of sanitation staff in Telangana as they were staying away from the responsibilities for last 26 days. As the strike continues, the villages stink to high heavens. As many as 25,000 gram panchayat sanitation workers have been striking work since July 23 demanding a rise in salaries, granting separate funds by the government to the panchayats to pay their wages regularly and resolution of several other issues.

The Swachh Sarvekshan programme was hit by the strike as the sanitation staff have stopped cleaning the roads and drainages. The garbage is piling up in the streets and the drainage lines are are getting choked. President of Telangana Gram Panchayat Employees and Workers Joint Action Committee P Bhaskar told The Hans India that the strike has entered 26th day on Friday. He said that the collectors have been persuading the staff to call off the strike.

The local leaders have also been holding discussions with the GP staff to call off the strike and promising to solve the issues. However, the GP staff wanted them to hold discussions with the State JAC. Bhaskar said that the officials and leaders have been promising to give salaries through the 14th Finance Commission grants and offering Rs 8,500 minimum salary per month. Giving salaries through FC funds was not possible as the Centre’s guidelines in this regard strictly prohibit the GPs from using them for the salaries.

He alleged that the government has been trying to hoodwink the GP staff with false promises. The GP staff has held protests in front of the collectorates all over the state on August 16 and the police have arrested several leaders of the JAC.

As the term of the sarpanches has ended there was no one to take responsibility of sanitation in the villages. The special officers being appointed to them are busy with their own responsibilities. The Swachh Sarvekshan has been launched, from August 1, to improve sanitation in the rural areas. As per the programme the rural districts of the states would be given ranks on the basis of the success they have achieved in the programme in the villages.

They would be given on the basis of the results of the survey to be held in selected villages through Swachh Sarvekshan. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) of Government of India has commissioned “Swachh Sarvekshan Grameen-2018” through an independent survey agency to develop ranking of all districts of India on the basis of quantitative and qualitative sanitation (Swachhata) parameters. This ranking will be based on a comprehensive set of parameters, including district-level surveys of public places like schools, anganwadis, PHCs and haat bazaars.

As part of Swachh Sarvekshan Grameen, 6,980 villages in 698 districts across India have been covered. As many as 34,900 public places namely schools, anganwadis, public health centres, haat bazaars, religious places in these 6,980 villages will be visited for survey. Around 1.74 lakh citizens will be interviewed in villages for their feedback and overall around 50 lakh citizens feedback will be obtained.

However, with the strike of the sanitation staff the state may not be able to compete with other states to get better ranks. The survey agencies may give adverse reports on the performance of the gram panchayats on sanitation. On the other hand, the Panchayat Raj department has been passing the buck to the DRDA officials stating that the latter has to take care of sanitation in villages and that PR department has nothing to do with it.

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