Sanitation workers on strike, garbage piles up in McLeod Ganj

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARMSALA, March 3: The agitated twenty-six sanitation workers of McLeod Ganj stopped collecting garbage from door to door and dumpsters since February 20, demanding a raise in their salaries, payment of maintenance cost for the three garbage trucks and most importantly their salaries be paid on time.

Overflowing dumpster at Jogibara Road, McLeod Ganj

The sanitation workers rue that their plea falls on the deaf ears as no one listens to their grievances be it the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation(MC) or the Vishal Protection Force who were awarded the sanitation contract of Dharamsala by the MC.

“We get our salaries delayed by a month and the Vishal Protection Force doesn’t pay the maintenance cost of the garbage trucks. In spite of our appeals over the matter to the MC and Vishal Protection Force, no one listens to us,” Sunil, the supervisor of McLeod Ganj sanitation workers told Tibet Express.

The sanitation workers who on the payroll of Vishal Protection Force further demanded a raise in their salaries, payment of maintenance cost for the three garbage trucks and most importantly their salaries be paid on time.

McLeod Ganj sanitation workers at the Dharaamsala TSO office

“We want a pay rise, payment of maintenance cost for the garbage trucks and our salaries be paid on time. If our demands were not met, then we will remain on strike for however long it may take,” Sunil concluded.

Further, the sanitation workers in the Dharamsala jurisdiction who are on the payroll of the Vishal Protection Force have filed a case against the same at the Dharamsala district court.

The Tibetan Settlement Office(TSO) of Dharamsala was awarded the sanitation contract of Dharamsala by the Dharamsala MC in 2005 till late 2016. The sanitation contract of the whole Kangra district then went to Vishal Protection Force, a Mumbai based management through an online bidding in late 2016.

Later the TSO took up the sanitation contract of ward 1-3 of Dharamsala from Vishal Protection Force. The area spans from Naddi till Gangchen Kyishong and the TSO distributes the salaries of the sanitation workers as it receives the money from the Vishal Protection Force.

Overflowing garbage in McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh reached an alarming proportion and posses a serious threat to the health of people.

Garbage piled up outside Tsuglakhang

While the TSO has initiated to clean the piled up garages near the Dalai Lama’s temple, the sanitation workers on strike came to protest at the TSO office demanding to stay away as they are on strike.

“The TSO took up the initiate voluntarily to clean up Dharamsala in 1994 as it is the seat of both the Tibetan spiritual leader and the Central Tibetan Administration before Dharamsala MC awarded the sanitation contract to the TSO in 2005 until late 2016,” Dawa Rinchen, the TSO of Dharamsala told Tibet Express.

But the sprawling of Dharamsala due to urbanisation has made it impossible to carry on the initiative as the TSO incurred losses in lakhs over the sanitation project for some years. Hence the TSO doesn’t favours taking the sanitation contract.

The TSO further stated that for quite some time, we paid the salaries of the workers in advance before we receive it from Vishal Protection Force, “but it can’t go on forever,” TSO said.

Signaling that their hands were tied and they were at wit’s end, the TSO concluded by saying, “we have approached the Dharamsala MC through both written and spoken form over the matter.”

According to a Feb 19, 2017, report on Tribune, it stated that the sanitation contract of Dharamsala was under the scanner and it further claims that it could be one of the reasons behind the transfer of Municipal Commissioner JM Pathania. Pathania was replaced by IAS officer Lalit Jain.


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