ANANTNAG: As the indefinite strike of the employees of Municipal Committee Pahalgam (MCP) entered second day on Wednesday, heaps of garbage has accumulated in this famous tourist resort.
Around three hundred employees both permanent and daily wagers went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday against the non-payment of their salaries from past seven to ten months.
MCP employees union president, Mehraj-u-din Lone said that the permanent employees of the organization are without salaries from past seven months while as the daily wagers remain unpaid from more than a year. “Last time when we announced strike, the executive officer, MCP and the then chief executive officer, PDA, had sought two weeks time for release of our salaries. Since they failed to meet our demand by the deadline which was 6th of April, we were left with no option but to go on a strike,” Lone said.
He said that the poor sweepers of the municipality, who are always on toes to keep the tourist spot neat and clean, are facing tough times due to the non-payment of their salaries. “Their families are starving. The ailing and aged parents of some of them are dying for want of medicine,” he said.
He accused the authorities of failing to outsource the Toll post which he said, generates more a crore for MCP annually. “The toll post was outsourced for 1.29 crore rupees last year. But this year they are causing deliberate delay in its outsourcing just to accommodate a particular contractor.”
He said that tenders have been floated for its outsourcing two times. “But the top officials don’t allow the bidding for their interests,” he said adding that outsourcing of the toll post can end the financial crunch in the MCP.
“No sweeper will resume work until the authorities clear all our pending dues,” Lone said.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that the strike by the sweepers has turned the tourist destination into a ‘garbage town.’ “If the authorities fail to convince the striking employees particularly sweepers, Pahalgam will turn into a dirtiest place in few days,” they said.
Executive officer MCP and chief executive officer, PDA, Riyaz Ahmad Wani did not respond to the repeated calls.
However, secretary of the MCP, Nazir Ahmad said that the demand of the employees is genuine.
“When employees of the MCP last time announced that they are going on an indefinite strike, I managed to convince them by assuring them of releasing their salaries by 6th of this month on the assurances of the director. But this time they did not listen to me and decided to go on a strike,” he said.
He said that MCP has over 150 permanent employees and none of them has been paid salary for last seven months. “Against the required salary budget of 29 lakh rupees a month, we get only fifteen lakhs from the directorate,” he said.
He admitted that if the strike by the employees continues, Pahalgam “will stink badly.”