The plans of Minister for Rural Development and Women and Child Welfare Pankaja Munde to install Closed Circuit Television cameras at Anganwadis has ruffled feathers of staffers.
Stating that the new minister had made the announcement because she was not aware of “ground realities”, the state level association of Anganwadi workers and Anganwadi helpers has drawn her attention to pending dues. They said money was needed for infrastructure and equipment, weighing machines in particular, to improve Anganwadis rather than CCTVs.
“Munde had recently said there were plans to install CCTV cameras in Anganwadis to keep an eye on their functioning. The minister said the move would improve the functioning of Anganwadis as higher-ups could scrutinise their work. The move contemplated by the government led to anger among thousands of Anganwadi workers and helpers who said there were a host of other important issues to be addressed on priority,” Nitin Pawar, state vice-president of Anganwadi workers and helpers, said.
He said Anganwadi employees at some project sites have not received their monthly honorarium for the last five months .
“While the meagre honorarium is already a big problem, they have been waiting for their dues since August. The honorarium for Anganwadi workers is Rs 4,000 and that for helpers is Rs 2,000. The government has been sitting on the demand to hike the amount. Before spending money on CCTVs, the government should hike the honorarium and clear pending dues,” Pawar said.
Highlighting lack of key facilities and infrastructure at Anganwadis, the association of workers and helpers said there were no weighing machines to check weight of children at many sites, and several Anganwadis run in makeshift shelters or even cowsheds.
“Children coming to Anganwadis must be watched for malnutrition. Weighing machines play a crucial role. Due to unavailability of land, many of the 95,000 plus Anganwadis run in unhygienic places. Lack of cupboards and furniture is a major challenge. The government should spend money on these first,” Pawar said, adding that their demand for supplying groundnut “laddus” and boiled eggs to children has not been granted.
Stressing that work of Anganwadis in Maharashtra had been appreciated by UNICEF and the World Bank, the association said Munde’s plans to install CCTV to keep a watch was tantamount to “demeaning” their efforts.
Started by the Centre under Integrated Child Development Services Scheme in 1975, Anganwadis primarily aim at improving nutrition and health of children.
Munde could not be reached for comment. Senior Women and Child Development officials were not available for their versions.