Municipal workers’ strike hits sanitation on ghats in Vijayawada during Bhavani Deeksha relinquishment

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Discarded robes lay in heaps at Seethamma ghat in Vijayawada on Thursday afternoon as the second day of relinquishing Bhavani Deeksha saw a lot of devotee rush.
| Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

Sanitation and maintenance of the ghats during the five-day Bhavani Deeksha relinquishment in Vijayawada have been hit by the ongoing State-wide strike by outsourced municipal workers.

Discarded robes lay in heaps on the Seethamma Ghat on Thursday (January 4) afternoon as the rush of Bhavanis increased by the hour on Thursday. Notably, many of the bins placed on the ghats stood half-full or empty as few used them to dispose of the flower waste or their clothes.

According to a municipal corporation official, who was inspecting the ghats and monitoring the sanitation work and sought anonymity, the people did not pay heed to his requests for safe disposal of their clothes. “They have religious sentiments. They either leave them on the ghats or throw them into the river. This burdens the few workers we have,” said the official, under whom 40 contract workers were working.

A sanitation worker has to pick up every discarded cloth from the ghat and put them in a bin, which is then carried to the conveyor belt that connects the ghat to the road. Then, the clothes are unloaded into a tipper.

Currently, the VMC is making do with around 800 sanitation workers for the work that used to be done by 5,000 outsourced workers earlier. The 800 workers include permanent staff, those from APCOS (AP Corporation of Outsourced Services) employees and those hired on contract. Of 800 workers, around 600 have been tasked with clearing the garbage in the city while the rest have been roped in specifically for the five-day event that began on Wednesday (January 3).

Acknowedging the challenge, Chief Medical Officer of Health, VMC, P. Ratnavali said they were doing their best. “We have put to service more tractors, tippers and JCB machines for clearing the garbage piling up in the city and on the ghats. It is becoming difficult since we are seeing a heavy rush,” she said.

Meanwhile, the municipal workers continued to strike their work on the 11th day of their protest. All workers have been on loss of pay since the protest began.

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