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Thousands of anganwadi workers on strike for 45 days, but no respite in sight

These workers, after holding a rally at Karnal - the hometown of Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, on January 5 - even offered to court arrests on January 12 as part of their attempt to get the government to look into their demands.

Thousands of anganwadi workers and helpers have been on strike in Haryana. (Express Photo)

Thousands of anganwadi workers and helpers have been on strike in Haryana for the past 45 days to demand a hike in their salaries and the cold has failed to deter them from demanding what they deem is a legitimate hike in their remunerations.

These workers, after holding a rally at Karnal – the hometown of Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, on January 5 – even offered to court arrests on January 12 as part of their attempt to get the government to look into their demands.

The state has nearly 52,000 anganwadi workers and helpers, with the agitators claiming that around 75 per cent of the total workers have joined them in their protests. The government, on the other hand, surmises that only 40 per cent of workers have been absent from duty.

Deeming the protests as “unreasonable”, the government so far has tried to placate the agitators by claiming that the state was already offering the highest honorarium to anganwadi workers and helpers in north India.

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Along with the share of the Centre, the Haryana government gives Rs 11,811 to every anganwadi worker, and Rs 6,045 to the anganwadi helpers.

Haryana Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union general secretary, Shakuntala, said, “We are not demanding anything from the state government. We just want the implementation of the announcements made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 2018 in which he declared an increase of Rs 1500 per month in the salary of anganwadi workers and Rs 7500 for
anganwadi helpers. Apart from our regular duties in anganwadis, we also have to conduct surveys of toilets, voters, handicapped persons, the brides brought from other states and the persons who have less than two acres of land.”

She added, “We were declared frontline workers for our duties during the Covid
pandemic for going on surveys to find out suspected cases of Covid, for going out and motivating people for vaccination and providing assistance to health staffers at covid centres.”

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Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had recently announced an incentive of Rs 1000 for all anganwadi workers for working on the frontline during Covid-19.

The state government, however, states that the anganwadi workers are not government employees, but are engaged from their neighbourhood under the government’s Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) to offer different pre-school health and education-related services to the children in the age group of zero to six years and are only entitled to an “honorarium”. According to Haryana administration officials, the
honorarium for anganwadi workers in Tamil Nadu is Rs 10,800, in Chhattisgarh it is Rs 4,700, in Madhya Pradesh it was Rs 8,200, in West Bengal it was Rs 4,950, and in Punjab it was Rs 6,300 – all much less than that of Haryana (Rs 11,811).

“In comparison to Haryana’s honorarium of Rs 6,045 for anganwadi helpers, Chhattisgarh pays just Rs 2,350, Madhya Pradesh pays Rs 4,100, West Bengal Rs 3,900, and Punjab pays Rs 3,150,” a senior officer of the Haryana government told The Indian Express.

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Haryana Women and Child Development Minister, Kamlesh Dhanda, said, “Haryana is among three states to give the highest honorarium to anganwadi workers. The Chief Minister has
also announced Rs 1 lakh on their retirement and Rs 2 lakh in an instance of of accidental death.”

First published on: 22-01-2022 at 04:56 IST
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