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Data entry operators in 27,000 gram panchayats across the state started a fast unto death on Thursday, demanding release of payments for the past six months, a fixed honorarium, timely payment and reinstatement of 3,000 operators whose services had been terminated. The data operators said they have been on an indefinite strike since September 25 but the Rural Development Department did not resolve any of the issues.
There are a total of 23,500 data entry operators across the 27,000 gram panchayats in the state. The data entry operators play an important role in e-governance at the village level. Those who work at the village level Aple Sarkar Seva Kendras are entrusted with the job of digitising government documents, improving online citizen services, issuing 27 certificates, including birth and death certificates, etc. They also undertake implementation of schemes like crop insurance, farm loan waiver and others.
“The government promised us to resolve the issues. In the past 20 months, the department has promised us on several occasions but did not fulfill those. While the government had promised us a fixed Rs 6,000 monthly honorarium, we are not able to get it due to the conditions imposed,” said Siddheshwar Munde, president of the state data entry operators’ union. He added that the operators worked without honorarium for past six months to complete the application process for the state government’s farm loan waiver scheme.
“We didn’t want to create hurdles. Now, although Diwali is just few days away, we still have not been paid our honorarium. We are the true foot-soldiers of a digital Maharashtra but our demands have been neglected,” said Munde.