Vishakhapatanam: Garbage heaps vitiated several parts of Visakhapatnam city as sanitary workers went on leave for the three-day Pongal festival, stopping the daily collections temporarily.
Only a few of them reported back to work on Monday and they too disappeared in the afternoon.
Garbage was seen strewn mainly at Poorna Market, the city’s century old market, Allipuram Road, Fishing Harbor area, MVP Colony and many parts of the old town.
The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation has 800 permanent sanitary workers and 5,412 contract and outsourcing personnel. Of these, around 1,500 are deployed for work in other departments, leaving only 3,500 persons to carry out the sweeping and cleaning of the roads and drains in an area of 620 sq km stretching from Bheemli to Anakapalle.
“Sankranti is a holiday for sanitary workers and the following two days were optional holidays. We told half of them to come for work so that they can avail their off some other day,’’ said Mayor Hari Venkatakumari.
She said only some parts of the city faced the problem on Monday morning but the garbage was lifted by the evening.
Chief medical officer Sastry said no worker reported for work in the last two days but they started working from Monday. “Much of the garbage has been cleared,’’ he said.
President of GVMC Sanitary workers union Venkata Reddy said old town areas were always neglected by the public health department of the civic body. “Only main roads and beach areas are cleaned through which VIPs and tourists pass. This has been so for many decades,’’ he said.
He said the corporation grew from 50 wards having a four lakh population to 98 wards with a population of 24 lakh after the merging of Anakapalle and Bheemili towns to form the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in 2005. But, the number of sanitary workers' strength was never increased in a matching manner, he said.
“Sanitation was never a priority of GVMC even under the threat of Covid19 and dengue,’’ he said.
“More garbage is generated in times of festivals and the tourism season. The corporation should clear the garbage soon in view the fast-spreading Covid19 virus,” said fruit trader Vasudeva Rao of Poorna Market.