NOIDA: A pilot project to let manage cleaning and in residential sectors at 25% less than what the government pays contractors has crash-landed less than a month since it was initiated.
has suspended sanitation it signed with four RWAs — of sectors 47, 49, 52 and 66 — that came into effect from February 1, drawing criticism from residents’ groups of surrendering to blackmail and coercion by labour contractors who bag a hefty commission from civic work contracts.
On February 12, sanitation workers of the Noida Authority and those working for private contractors joined ranks and went on a strike, refusing to work under RWAs and demanding permanent jobs. The strike, which RWAs allege was provoked by a syndicate of labour contractors and middlemen who feared loss of income, went on till February 21, affecting civic work across the city.
Days later, the Noida Authority decided to play it safe and suspend the contracts with the RWAs, grounding a progressive move that promised to change the template of civic work in the city. The contracts, RWAs said, would have ensured cleaner neighbourhoods by making residents the main overseers of sanitation work while saving cost for the government.
It is uncertain if these contracts will be implemented again. Noida Authority’s officer on special duty Rajesh Kumar Singh said, “We suspended the contract following a meeting with striking sanitation workers. Since February 12, sanitation workers have been on strike which has affected nearly 30% work.” He said a decision on the future of contracts would be “mutually arrived at”.
PPS Nagar, the Sector 47 RWA president, said, “We have records where employees on strike disturbed work raising three demands — that they will not work under RWAs, will not let others (employed by RWAs) work, and tell Noida Authority to give them permanent jobs. The RWAs took charge of sanitation because the workers did not put in more than two hours of work (out of the stipulated 8) and instead were interested in the private jobs that contractors gave them. Hence, they went on strike.”
Nagar said even at a lower cost, RWAs were able to hire more people than the number deployed earlier, paying the same salary with PF benefits. “We even cleaned sectors at night, bought the necessary tools and spent on security of staff,” he said.
The Noida Authority, officials said, plans to start biometric attendance of sanitation workers to make them adhere to the contracts. N P Singh, president of RWA grouping FONRWA said, “Noida Authority came under pressure from middlemen and brokers, who take 40% commission on sanitation work. There is no space for voice of the people here. Because of this rampant corruption, we had demanded that sanitation work be given to RWAs. And the RWAs were doing a very good job.”