While anganwadi workers continue to be on an indefinite strike across the state demanding a hike in their honorarium, sources in the state government said if their demands have to be met, other government departments may have to make budget cuts. Sources said the state government has exhausted its capacity to seek more loan after announcing the farm loan waiver scheme.
“Due to the farm loan waiver, the state can’t get any additional loans as its capacity is exhausted. Besides, the state government can’t levy any additional tax now since the GST has come into force. If at all we go to the GST council saying increase one percent on a few things, the business and trade will be affected. So, the only option left with the government is to cut the budget of other departments to meet the demands of anganwadi workers,” said a senior cabinet minister on the condition of anonymity.
The minister further said that the decision on cutting the funds of other departments can only be taken by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “Whether the funds of urban development or any other department should be cut to allocate for the anganwadi workers can be taken by the chief minister,” he added.
Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar who met a delegation of anganwadi workers promised them a meeting with Fadnavis in ten days. From Monday, the anganwadi workers have gone on an indefinite strike and held a protest at Azad Maidan on Tuesday. There are 2,06,000 workers in the state’s anganwadis.
The strike is likely to impact close to a lakh functional anganwadis in the state that serve at least over 10 lakh children. The Maharashtra State Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee maintained that the indefinite strike would continue until the issue is resolved.
“We had discussions with the officials from the women and child development department today. It was discussed to give rise in honorarium based on seniority. A proposal has been prepared and will be placed before the women and child development minister,” said MA Patil of the committee. Officials from the women and child development department said discussions are on with the anganwadi workers’ committee.
“Although the strike continues, we had discussions with them today on several demands. Now, a meeting will be held with the women and child minister in a day or two to decide on it,” said Vinita Singhal, secretary of
the women and child development department.