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‘Black Diwali for Chandni Chowk’: Traders after garbage piles up on revamped stretch due to workers’ strike | Delhi News

Heaps of waste piled on streets, garbage spilling out of dustbins — the much-touted pedestrianised stretch at the popular Chandni Chowk market is facing a sanitation crisis. The reason? Contractors, hired by the Public Works Department (PWD) to maintain cleanliness in the area, have suspended their services over non-payment of outstanding dues amounting to Rs 5.5 crore and non-renewal of their lease.

Traders complained that for the past week, the 1.3 km-long portion between Red Fort and Fatehpuri Mosque has been in a state of neglect, causing inconvenience to customers and impacting businesses.

“The area requires constant cleaning; prior to the contractors’ walkout, roads were routinely mechanically swept every night,” said shop owner Raavi Kumar Dubey.

On Wednesday night, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi cleared the area. However, because of the heavy footfall owing to the festive season, garbage began to pile up once more by Thursday evening, said Dubey.

Sanjay Bhargava, head of the Chandni Chowk Traders Association, said, “The redevelopment project is in limbo because no civic body is ready to take the matter seriously… all departments are at loggerheads with each other. Both PWD and MCD are currently under the same government, so why is there so much confusion?”

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“… It’s a black Diwali for Chandni Chowk as many customers have stopped visiting the market due to the sanitation issues,” he added.

Sanitation workers under the PWD also said the four public toilets on the revamped stretch are currently non-functional. “Water supply to the four restrooms has been cut, they have also not been cleaned in the last week, making them unusable for the public,” said workers responsible for operating the washrooms in the area.

To maintain cleanliness, Bhargava said PWD contractors had deployed over 150 personnel in three shifts. As soon as the PWD extends the lease and states when they will pay the outstanding balance, contractors will end their strike, he added.

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On its part, the Delhi government said “contract has been renewed”, however, there was no response on when PWD would resume work on the stretch.

The MCD said, “The area was not cleaned for 6-7 days. As a responsible civic agency, we’ve taken up the task of cleanliness in Chandni Chowk’s redesigned stretch which the PWD is responsible for. We are hoping the PWD gets its house in order soon.”

Earlier this week, the High Court had asked the Delhi government to ensure redevelopment work carried out in Chandni Chowk is continued and maintained. A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela said the traders association also owed “some social responsibility” as the area is being developed for their welfare as well.

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