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Jharia hits the road over waste

Public ire over the inability of the powers that be to end the ongoing strike by MADA sanitation workers spilled on to the streets of Jharia on Tuesday, even as heavy police bandobast was made to allow Dhanbad Municipal Corporation workers start clearing garbage in a late afternoon initiative.

Garbage clearing and drain cleaning began at Jharia taxi stand around 3pm under heavy police protection in a drive overseen by Jharia officer in-charge Srikant Upadhyay.

Earlier, around 11.30am, hundreds of residents blocked the Jharia-Dhanbad-Sindri road as mounds of garbage poured out of dustbins and covered the streets. Drains overflowed and people living on ground floors were left to deal with waste floating into their homes as the strike by 600 MADA workers over unpaid dues entered its 25th day.

Residents, led by state executive committee member of the BJP’s youth wing Vishnu Tripathi, blocked the road near Jharia taxi stand, demanding immediate intervention of the administration to prevent an epidemic. The blockade continued till 2.30pm.

“We have been forced to take to the streets due to the apathetic attitude of the district administration and civic authorities who are trying to shirk responsibility at a crucial time,” said Tripathi.

He warned that an epidemic was imminent as overflowing waste had started entering homes in Dharamshala Road, Koiri Bandh, Sabzi Mandi, Manbaad, Gaddi Muhalla, Chouthai Kulhi and Fatepur.

“People can’t enter any of the four ATMs in Fatehpur as the foul stench emanating from the garbage dumped in front of them is overpowering,” said BJP leader Rajkumar Agarwal, who is also district vice president of the party.

On Monday, striking MADA workers prevented Dhanbad Municipal Corporation workers from clearing garbage from Lakshminia More.

MADA managing director Alok Trivedi said because of the financial crisis that MADA had been facing, it had not been able pay 1,800 employees for about 15 to 20 months. He added that BCCL had been asked to pay up Rs 3.5 crore water dues so at least a month’s salaries could be disbursed.

Meanwhile, chief executive officer of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation Awdhesh Kumar Pandey said Jharia residents would have to do their bit by mounting pressure on MADA workers to either withdraw their strike or allow civic body workers to carry out a cleanliness drive.