Sewer cleaning: LG Saxena directs chief secretary to look into non-payment of Rs 16cr bills by Delhi govt

New Delhi: Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena has directed the chief secretary to look into a complaint about non-payment of bills worth Rs 16 crore by the city government for cleaning of sewer lines maintained by the Delhi Jal Board.

The complaint was filed by Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), officials at LG office said.

No immediate reaction was available from Delhi government or the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) over the issue.

The LG has expressed displeasure over “inordinate delay” in the payments and directed the chief secretary to take immediate steps to clear all ?genuine claims? of the Dalit sanitation workers before Diwali.

The DJB on February 20, 2019, had signed an agreement with DICCI for implementing a technology-based solution for sewer cleaning to eliminate manual scavenging in Delhi. As per the agreement, 189 contractors from the marginalized community were engaged by DJB for cleaning of the sewer lines, the officials said.

These contractors engaged over 1,000 sanitation workers for cleaning of sewers in the DJB areas. The contractors purchased sewer cleaning machines with loan assistance under the ‘Stand Up India’ scheme, they said.

The State Bank of India had extended the term loan up to 90 per cent of the project cost — Rs 40 lakh for each machine — and the remaining 10 per cent of the margin money was brought in by the Dalit entrepreneurs.

The EMI payment to the bank formed the major expenditure every month apart from the recurring operation and maintenance expenses of these machines.

“Due to non-payment of bills by Delhi government, the Dalit workers have been forced to go without salary for several months and the contractors are unable to meet the critical recurring expenses like the fuel, operation and maintenance and repayment of bank EMIs,” the officials said.

According to the complaint, the contract between DJB and DICCI, stipulates the release of payment to the contractors every month but timely payments have never been made in the last four years, they added.