Corporation officials have proposed removal of Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd. from one of the three zones where the private conservancy operator is in charge of garbage clearance.

Lakhs of residents in the city are likely to experience the impact of the Chennai Corporation's decision to take penal action against the private conservancy operator. As a first step, Corporation officials have proposed removal of Ramky Enviro Engineers Ltd. from one of the three zones where the private conservancy operator is in charge of garbage clearance. This, officials claimed, is expected to reduce the burden on the private conservancy operator which is facing challenges in managing its labour force.

Over 1,500 tonnes of garbage is generated in the three zones of Teynampet, Kodambakkam and Adyar. But the civic body has started receiving complaints from residents that Ramky Enviro has been unable to clear garbage properly in many localities such as T. Nagar, Royapettah and Adyar. Reluctance of labourers to carry out work on the wages given by Ramky Enviro is considered one of the reasons behind the present situation.

While civic body officials said they have been stressing the need for increasing the wages of conservancy workers, the private agency has expressed its inability to hike wages of workers. The senior management of Ramky Enviro seem apprehensive of the cascading effect if the increase in wage for conservancy workers is implemented.

Sources said the private conservancy agency was unable to increase the number of labourers as sought by the civic body last week. The Corporation also asked the private agency to improve night conservancy operations to solve the problem of garbage accumulation. However, many labourers are not willing to accept Ramky's wages as Chennai Corporation had been paying them Rs. 300 a day before the private agency took over in three zones. Also, Ramky is yet to implement the civic body's directive to improve night conservancy by hiring an additional 500 workers on contract by paying them a daily wage of Rs. 205.

While the civic body and the private conservancy agency claim that labour shortage is one of the key reasons for inadequate conservancy work, over 1,000 workers were mobilised by Tholilalar Ikkiyia Munnani for a rally on May 22 near Memorial Hall. These workers were on contract with the Chennai Corporation before Ramky Enviro took over in three zones, following which the workers lost their jobs. At the rally, they expressed their willingness to work on contract at a reduced wage.

The availability of such a large number of jobless labourers only signifies that the problem of labour shortage can be overcome easily. Residents are waiting for the civic body to take an out-of-the-box initiative to solve this simple yet mystifying problem.

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