Anganwadi workers to intensify protest
Around 1,900 Anganwadi workers of Kamrup (Metro) District are set to intensify their protest next month if the government fails to fulfil their long-standing demands.
Anganwadi workers of Guwahati said that they have given an ultimatum to the government till December 15 after which they will call a three-day strike in the state from December 19.
Their major demands include increase in their honorarium and a one-time financial assistance at the time of retirement as part of their pension benefit. The Anganwadi workers currently receive Rs. 4,000 per month while the helpers who assist the workers get Rs. 2,000.
“This amount is extremely low and it gets difficult for us to run our households. How will we be able to survive on this meagre sum?” said Indira Newar, an Anganwadi worker and secretary of Assam State Anganwadi Workers’ and Helpers’ Association (ASAWHA). She added that they were demanding a hike to Rs. 6,000 for workers and Rs. 4,000 for helpers every month.
There are 700 Anganwadi centres in Kamrup (Metro) district out of a total of 62,153 in the state. They were started in 1975 by the central government with a view to combat malnutrition in children and to provide care for pregnant women. They provide mother and child care and are run under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme.
“We will sit on a dharna and will block the entrance of the Directorate of Social Welfare if our demands are not fulfilled,” said another Anganwadi worker from Guwahati.
The workers say that they are not provided with any pension provisions or health benefits. They have asked the state government to pay the workers Rs 2 lakhs and helpers Rs 1.5 lakhs as one-time payment in lieu of their pension.
Most Anganwadi centres lack infrastructure, facilities
President of ASAWHA, Tapan Sarma, said that a majority of Anganwadi centres in Kamrup (Metro) and other districts lack basic infrastructural facilities.
“Almost 80% of Anganwadi centres are in a deplorable condition without proper buildings and furniture. Some are even forced to operate under trees or other community spaces,” he said.
Workers also alleged that sub-standard materials are supplied to the centres. They say that very few centres are supplied with medical kits which contain essential items like folic acid tablets and iron tablets for pregnant women and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) for children.
The workers have also demanded proper management of Anganwadi centres including RCC building, regular supply of medical kits and other materials including furniture.
In this regard, the government has made a plan for renovation of centres and will also construct 10,000 new Anganwadi centres.
These workers have also alleged that the authorities engage them in other external government duties for which they are not paid additional money.
They said that they did not mind working more but they have made a case for extra wages in such situations.
“On paper, the Anganwadi workers are supposed to work for four-and-a half-hours every day but the duties allotted to us consume at least eight hours of work,” claimed Sarma.
Several rounds of talk with govt yields no result
The Anganwadi workers and helpers said that they have been voicing their demands since January and have also held protests across the state.
“We have remained patient for a long time and have conducted several rounds of talks with the education minister, principal secretary and officials from the social welfare department. The chief minister has also been apprised about our grievances, but no concrete steps have been taken till now,” said Newar.
She added that she has been working at the Sonapur Anganwadi centre for the past 28 years and now the government should spare a thought about them and should at least announce a time limit for consideration of their demands.
Talking to GPlus, a senior official in the directorate of social welfare said that the government is taking the demands of the Anganwadi workers “seriously” and the talks were on with senior officials to increase and fix their honorarium. He however said that a decision about the pension was yet to be finalised.
Total Anganwadi centres in Kamrup (M): 700
Total Anganwadi centres in Assam: 62,153
Total Anganwadi workers and helpers in Kamrup (M): 1,900
Total Anganwadi workers and helpers in Assam: 1,17, 000
• Anganwadi workers have threatened to intensify their protests
• They will call a three-day strike in December if their demands are not fulfilled by the government
• They have demanded increased honorarium and one-time financial assistance in lieu of pension
• Other demands: health benefits, proper maintenance of Anganwadi centres
• They have demanded that workers should get at least Rs. 6,000 and helpers Rs. 4,000 in a month.
• Workers claim that 80% of the Anganwadi centres lack medical kits and many lack proper infrastructure facilities.
• Govt has decided to build 10,000 new Anganwadi centres and renovate the old ones
• Talks are ongoing to increase their honorarium
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