INDIA. Mumbai: Thousands of Anganwadi workers held an agitation at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai to demand the fulfillment of their demands, including the hike in remuneration on Tuesday.
The demands included: the payment of food allowance, travel allowance, and fuel allowance to make available the Marathi version of the diet tracker, the payment of pending dues to those whose tenure has expired, and the implementation of the gratuity payment as per the Supreme Court directions.
The Anganwadis (courtyard shelters) are the rural childcare centres started by the Union government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. There are around 13 lakh Anganwadi workers across the country. Out of these, nearly two lakh Anganwadi workers are in Maharashtra.
In response to the agitation, Maharashtra Women and Child Welfare Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha invited members of the Anganwadi Workers’ Action Committee (AWAC). They assured them to look into their grievances.
The delegation comprised the office bearers-M A Patil, Subha Shamim, Bhagwan Deshmukh, Nisha Shivurkar, Madhuri Kshirsagar, Jivan Surude, and Sarita Kandale. In view of Lodha’s assurance, the Committee decided to wait for a month and organize a massive morcha to the Maharashtra legislature in Nagpur next month if the demands are not fulfilled by that time.
These workers are primarily women, attached to local government-run dispensaries and child care centres, with every worker catering from 40 to 400 households. They also cook food for the children. They are categorized as “Anganwadi Sevika,” “Mini-Anganwadi Sevika,” and “Assistants”. They retire at the age of 65 years.
On average, the Anganwadi Sevikas get a monthly remuneration of Rs 10,000/-. The remuneration is revised once in 5 years, and one can draw higher remuneration only after putting in at least 25 years of service. At the end of their tenure, they get a lump sum of Rs one lakh (Rs 75,000 to the Assistants).
They have suggested that they be paid a monthly pension equivalent to half of the remuneration. Besides, they have been demanding their absorption in regular state government service. They had organized a district-wise agitation in February.
Also Read: Anganwadi Workers’ Agitation for Better Working Condition