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Civic mess, crowd chaos before
Chhath
A2Z staff strike kicks up a stink

Dhanbad will have to celebrate Chhath amid filth and squalor as conservancy workers have been on a strike since Sunday, turning the coal capital into one huge garbage dump.

A2Z, the cleaning agency roped in by the corporation for solid waste management, have stopped clearing waste in wards Nos. 20, 24 and 30 to protest against salary dues. The santitation workers claim they have not received full salaries for October. Earlier, over 600 sanitation workers of Mada had been on a ceasework for 27 days, again over pending salaries. Their strike, which continued well throughout Durga Puja and ended on November 3, led to overflowing drains and heaps of garbage.

“At least eight to nine places in my ward, including Park Market, Mohan Pan Dukan Chowk, Maa Kali Market and Hotel Maurya, have become unfit for living because of the accumulated garbage, which is growing with every passing day, and the foul smell emanating from it. I really don’t know how Chhath will be celebrated in such unhygienic conditions,” complained Nirmal Mukhejee, councillor of ward No. 30.

He claimed that he was trying to somehow manage the situation by roping in private labourers, but warned that the stopgap measure could not continue for long.

The councillor further said that the corporation authorities were going soft on A2Z. “According to the agreement between A2Z and Dhanbad Municipal Corporation, a penalty of Rs 5,000 is to be slapped on the agency if garbage lies unattended for more than one hour in any area. But the corporation is desisting from taking action against the company,” Mukherjee said.

Councillor of ward No. 20 Imtiyaz Khan presented a similar picture at Bhuli More, Kabadi Market locality, Pahalwan Dukan area, Idgah Road and Traction Colony of Rangatand. “The garbage spilling on to the road is preventing movement of normal traffic. We visited the local office of A2Z, but found it locked. We are trying to maintain normalcy by removing garbage with help of five contract labourers provided to each councillor so that Chhatch passes off without any inconvenience to devotees,” said Khan.

Assistant manager of A2Z Abhishek Vaidya maintained that they were in the process of negotiations with the striking workers and would resolve the crisis hopefully by November 19. “Though there was some delay in disbursing workers’ October’s salary as it took time to open their bank accounts, we have cleared the pay of all 58 staff. Yet, some disputes over the number of days they worked persist. We hope to find a solution before Chhath,” he said.

Deputy CEO of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation Siddharth Shankar Chaudhary said: “A2Z officials have assured us that the ceasework will end in a day or two.”