New Delhi, June 12: Warning of a health epidemic, Delhi High Court today directed the city government to ensure immediate release of funds to East Delhi Municipal Corporation to pay dues to employees for May and observed it should "call an emergency session" of Assembly as it was a "serious" issue.
"Why should the poorest wait for their salary. We have gone past promises. People on ground are suffering. Why should they work without salary?" the court said and issued a slew of directions to immediately clear the "alarming proportions" of garbage which has been piling on streets due to a strike by sanitation workers over non-payment of salaries. [East Delhi MCD sanitation workers strike ends; to get salary within 2 days]
The High Court also voiced unhappiness over Delhi Government's submission that it will take a decision for release of funds in its budget session and said, "It is unfair to say we will wait for house to assemble. Call for an emergency session. It's a serious issue, a health epidemic."
On the issue of removal of garbage from the areas, a bench of justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta directed the Commissioner of Police to constitute specific task forces to be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector to oversee ward-wise garbage removal right away.
It also restrained the associations of safai karamchaaris from obstructing removal of garbage from dumps, a function which has been outsourced to private agencies.
The court directed the city government, Chief Secretary and Urban Development secretary to hold a meeting with the EDMC Commissioner tomorrow morning and decide the amount required by EDMC for payment of salaries while ensuring that it is released soon.
The bench also directed the Delhi government to ensure that the required funds are "provisionally" transferred by June 15 with the condition that it would be used only for paying the EDMC employees.
It also directed the Police Commissioner, or his representative, and Commissioner of EDMC to meet today itself to work in close coordination over setting up of task force to ensure "removing of garbage is straight away carried out".
The court passed the order after it perused news reports and pictures submitted by advocate Sanjeev Ralli, who showed photographs of various areas in east Delhi where garbage has spilled onto the roads.
The bench issued notice to Centre, Delhi government, EDMC and various associations of safai karamchaaris, seeking their replies before the next date of hearing on June 19, when the authorities have been directed to submit their compliance reports.
During the hearing, senior advocate S Poddar appearing for EDMC, alleged that associations representing the workers have been obstructing removal of garbage from 'dhalaos' by private agencies and the force provided by Delhi police was inadequate to restrain them.
The EDMC lawyer also requested that these associations be restrained from obstructing the garbage removal work or from damaging the trucks of private agencies to whom the work has been outsourced.
The court then restrained the associations of safai karamchaaris from obstructing removal of garbage from dumps and asked all parties to cooperate in the best interests of people to resolve the issue of garbage disposal.
During the hearing, the bench was not happy with the response of Delhi government counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan that there is no provision for immediate release of Rs 500 crore that AAP regime promised.
The lawyer said that the government will take a decision for release of funds in its budget session and he will have to take instructions on the issue.
The court said the excuse of "taking instructions" is a "bureaucratic response". "It is not that you are not aware of the problem or urgency of the issue.
Take a decision for provisional release of funds for payment of salary to EDMC and only for that purpose," it said.
EDMC, during the hearing, told the court that it has already paid salaries of April 2015 and requires Rs 200 crore for the month of May.