STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Siliguri, 1 October
The operators of the private vans collecting garbage from the town have taken their vehicles off the roads today, protesting against the non-payment of their dues by the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC). They said things would remain like this for an indefinite period till the pending bills are cleared. Residents are worried, apprehending aggravation of the dengue menace now deepening its claws into the town. “Besides, the strike would make Siliguri filthier and this is all the more worrisome as the festive season is approaching,” said a resident from College Para. It is learnt that all the 40-odd vehicles under the Conservancy/PWD Contractors’ Association have been taken off today. 
“We have no other option but to go for strike since around Rs 1 crore is outstanding. There has been no payment from the end of the SMC for the past five months. We know the people will suffer. But we are helpless. We will not withdraw the strike until the SMC clears the outstanding,” said the president of the association, Mr Bishnu Sarkar.
The corporation mayor, Ms Gangotri Datta, said the corporation could not pay them because of the financial embargo. “We are cash-strapped. However, we assured them that the outstanding would be cleared before the pujas. If they stick to their stance we will take necessary steps in accordance with the rules," she said.