Sanitation workers at Taj Mahal end strike
Alarmed over a spate of complaints from tourists regarding stinking toilets in the Taj Mahal, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials on Wednesday worked out a truce with the striking sanitation workers who returned to work to clean up the mess.
After Tuesday's downpour, the Taj Mahal looked dazzling white and the lawns were fresh with lush green grass cover. Visitors expressed satisfaction at the level of cleanliness.
On Tuesday, around 30 'safai karamcharis' hired by the Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) had gone on strike to demand disbursement of their salaries.
Within a few hours the whole area was filled with the stench causing uneasiness among the visitors who started complaining about this.
The ASI deployed its own staff to help clean the toilets and clear the mess left unattended by the striking workers of the Bharat Vikas Group. BVG has been contracted by the ASI to clean and maintain public toilets in the Mughal monuments in Agra.
The striking employees of the BVG alleged they had not been paid their salaries for the past six months, and even after repeated reminders, no action had been initiated by the ASI.
ASI officials said they had informed the headquarters in New Delhi and "some action was likely to happen soon."
The striking workers levelled serious charges against the ASI and blamed the officials for dragging their case for long, showing hardly any sensitivity to their plight. They alleged that the wife of one of the worker's had died in hospital as her treatment was delayed for want of money.
Meanwhile, Ved Gautam, a tourist guide at the Taj Mahal said: "The ASI should have made alternative arrangements or ensured the workers were paid. How can they take this problem so lightly.
"The holiday crowds are already here. It is, therefore, necessary that the basic infrastructural facilities be maintained in top condition. The ASI should also provide protection to visitors from stray animals, monkeys, dogs and buffaloes, seen going berserk so often," Gautam added.
Meanwhile, security arrangements were beefed up ahead of the Independence Day, both in the monuments and in the city, following intelligence inputs of violence. Senior officials, including the District Magistrate N.G. Ravi Kumar, inspected the central jail where Kashmiri detainees had been shifted. Constant vigil was being kept at known flash points in the city, police officials said. IANS