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Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena (File photo)
Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena (File photo)

Delhi LG directs Kejriwal govt to clear all dues to Dalit sanitation workers before Diwali

ANI | Updated: Oct 06, 2022 17:00 IST


New Delhi [India], October 6 (ANI): Expressing displeasure over the unjustified and inordinate delay in payments by Arvind Kejriwal Government, the Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena on Thursday directed the Chief Secretary to take immediate steps to clear all dues of Dalit sanitation workers in the national capital before Diwali.
The LG asked Chief Secretary to look into a complaint of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) citing non-payment of bills to the tune of Rs 16 crore by Delhi Government to over 1000 Dalit workers engaged in cleaning of sewer lines in the national capital through Delhi Jal Board (DJB).
The LG said, "this was a serious matter and asked the Chief Secretary to take immediate steps to clear all genuine claims of these Dalit sanitation workers before Diwali so that these marginalized workers do not face any hardship during the festivals."
The LG's directions come in wake of a representation made by DICCI, led by its chairman Dr Milind Kamble who met the Lieutenant Governor on September 30, complaining about the apathy of the Delhi Government towards these Dalit workers who are the first generation entrepreneurs.
The DJB had signed an agreement with DICCI for implementing a technology-based solution for sewer cleaning to eliminate manual scavenging in Delhi on February 28, 2019, under which 189 contractors from marginalized communities were engaged by DJB for cleaning of the sewer lines. These contractors have engaged over 1000 sanitation workers who are responsible for the cleaning of sewers in the DJB areas.

Also, to implement the project, these contractors purchased sewer cleaning machines with loan assistance under the "Stand up India" scheme, a flagship scheme of the Prime Minister that aims at supporting the poor and the marginalized to become self-reliant.
The State Bank of India has extended the term loan up to 90 per cent of the project cost, that is Rs 40 lakh for each machine and the remaining 10 per cent of the margin money was brought in by the Dalit entrepreneurs. Thus, the EMI payment to the bank forms the major expenditure every month apart from the recurring operation and maintenance expenses of these machines.
However, due to non-payment of bills by the Delhi Government, these Dalit workers have been forced to go without salary for several months and the contractors are unable to meet the critical recurring expenses like fuel, operation and maintenance and repayment of bank EMIs.
DICCI Chairman Dr Kamble, a Padma Awardee and also the Director of IIM, Jammu, while meeting the LG, alleged that these Dalit contractors and workers are in the 4th year of their service with the DJB, but ever since they have been facing an acute crisis. He alleged that a lobby active in the DJB was constantly trying to fail these poor Dalit sanitation workers so that the sewer cleaning work again goes back to the old contractors.
According to the complaint, the contract between DJB and DICCI stipulates the release of payment to the contractors every month but never in these 4 years, have timely payments been made to these Dalit entrepreneurs. These contractors faced the worst crisis during the Covid-19 lockdown when the Delhi Government did not release their payments for several months even as their entire fleet of sewer cleaning machines was engaged by the government for a special sanitation drive across the city, causing hardships to these Dalit frontline workers, the complaint read. (ANI)

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