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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Private firm help irks civic staff

- Sanitation service proposal draws flak

Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) employees are miffed at the state government’s decision to engage a private firm to provide sanitation services in 62 out of total 72 wards of the capital.

Dubbing the step as arbitrary and in the interest of those in the decision-making, the PMC workers have started protesting the privatisation bid.

The government, through Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo), would rope in a consortium of Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited and MBM-Dallah to provide solid waste collection and management facilities for a large part of the capital. The approval is due with the PMC.

“We will not allow the PMC authorities to give a go-ahead to the project, as it is completely against the wishes of PMC workers as well as the residents. The authorities had once engaged A2Z Infrastructure Private Limited to clean up nine wards but the agreement with the firm was later cancelled because of poor performance and overbilling. It is unfortunate that policy makers have not learnt from the mistake and are about to commit a bigger blunder,” said C.P. Singh, president of the PMC employees’ union.

Many others employees with the civic body expressed displeasure over the government’s move to privatise the services. They said not only 2,000 workers attached with the PMC will instantly lose their jobs, even permanent workers will get into financial crisis as the civic body will not pay them salaries.

“A2Z had been producing bill of Rs 50 lakh per month on an average for nine streets and nine wards. PMC still spend Rs 1 crore for cleaning the rest of the city as it used to do earlier. If the sanitation for the entire city is outsourced to another firm, they will charge over Rs 10 crore per month for the service. What is the point in using such an extravagant service when the financial health of the corporation is so bad?” asked Manoj Yadav, a PMC worker.

He suggested that privatisation of the sanitation services was not the solution and government should rather focus on employing more people in the civic body and strengthening the organisation’s set-up. According to sources, the number of permanent sanitation workers in the PMC was 2,000 a few years back. It has come down to 1,000 as many of them have retired, passed away or have quit.

Mayor Afzal Imam allayed the fear expressed by union members and said bringing in a private player would better things for the city.

“The PMC does not have the manpower or resources of its own to carry out quality services on a grand scale. We have been managing it somehow. It is therefore amicable that we hire a firm. Though the matter is pending with the PMC’s empowered standing committee, it will be cleared and the project will take off soon,” he said.