GOALPARA, March 6 - All the employees of the Goalpara Municipality Board (GMB) including the safai karmacharis have resorted to an indefinite strike in protest against the non-payment of salaries by the GMB.
Talking to this correspondent, the secretary of the Goalpara Municipality Workers’ Union (GMWU), Anowar Hussein while demanding regular payment of their salaries said that the GMB hasn’t been able to pay salaries for the last nine months and the Board has deprived the workers of their basic rights after their long-standing demands were kept aside by the new municipality board which was formed on January 28, 2016.
Hussein also informed that besides non-payment of salaries, the pending arrears of 24 months from 2009 to 2014 under the 6th Pay Commission have not been paid till date. Also, the employees are demanding increased salaries under the 7th Pay Commission and implementation of the Assam Municipality Act, 1956, section 50(I) and 60.
Hussein further said that nagging interference on official works by many unofficial and unauthorised persons, particularly relatives of ward commissioners, should be stopped immediately for the smooth functioning of the municipality office.
According to the president and secretary of GMSU, Bhaskar Aditya Ray and Anowar Hussein respectively, the GMB has become dysfunctional and needs urgent intervention as there has been a sharp decline in the accountability of the Board which directly affects the local citizens. They also alleged that many of the GMB rules are opaque and non-transparent so as to allow corruption to thrive in their backyard. Also, they alleged that the Municipality Board is unable to utilise a huge amount of government funds due to non-implementation of various development schemes.
The GMU also disclosed that only 70% of the total grant amount of Rs 71,79,551/- which was released as the 1st instalment for the year 2015-16 under the award of 14th Finance Commission for utilisation against the basic civic services vide letter no. DMA (5th ASFC)/2015/ 35 dated 9th March, 2016 has been utilised till date. Again vide letter no. DMA(P) 231/2017/12 dated 9th Oct., 2017 the entire 2nd instalment of Rs 55,07,370/- for the year 2015-16 remained unutilised till date. Again, an amount of Rs 74,63,760/- released vide letter no. DMA(P)231/2017/37 dated 18th April, 2018 as 1st instalment under 14th Finance Commission remained unutilised and again funds released vide letter no. SBM (U) 171/2015-Pt.1/819 dated 4th Oct., 2018 of Rs 82,17,823/- for solid waste management under Swachh Bharat Mission (U), Assam remained unutilised. Another amount of Rs 26 lakh vide letter no. GMB/St. light/PJ/2018/02 for providing LED street light under project Jyoti for the year 2017-18 is lying unutilised in the Axis Bank, Golapara. Again an amount of Rs 24 lakh for construction of 3 nos. of commercial toilets is also lying unutilised. The GMU further informed that administrative approval for an amount of Rs 5, 22, 86, 000 for construction of 59 nos. of roads by paver blocks was given and alleged that the tendering process was illegally done by the Board.
Meanwhile, the citizens of the town are silently suffering due to the inefficient management of the Board by the present incumbent as piles of stinking garbage and trash can be seen across the town especially in the market places and street corners as the protesting municipality employees and safai karmacharis have halted their work since January 3, 2019.