Lucknow: As the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh celebrates its four-year anniversary, the Chief Minister has gone on to boast about job generation in the state. It comes at a time when over 3.73 lakh Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)employees await their salaries for the past four months.
The employees are a part of the Bal Vikas Pushtahar Department (Child Development and Nutrition Department), ICDS. While the government spends crores of rupees in advertising its achievements after having completed four years in power on Friday, March 19, its front-line employees continue to wage a struggle to survive. The Bal Vikas Pushtahar Department in the state has roughly 1.89 lakh Anganwadi workers and 1.67 helpers who have been deputed at 1.8 lakh centres across the state.
Around 22,000 mini-workers are also extending their services to the state government. They have not received salaries since December. Nearly 5,000 employees including the Child Development Officer (CDPO), District Programme Officer (DPO), lady supervisor, chief helpers and assistant statistical staff have also not received their salaries for four months.
“There are two cadres in Bal Vikas Pushtahar Department — common cadre and special cadre. The common cadre includes upper divisional clerk, lower division clerk, peon, driver and servant whil the special cadre has several posts including district programme officer, child development project officer and lady supervisor. The Centre gives 25% of the amount while the state government has to take care of the rest. Those under common cadre have been getting salaries on time but people in special cadre not received their salary for the last four months. Why? Because the state government is diverting the funds into other accounts which they have created recently,” Arun Kumar Pandey, president of Child Development Project Officer Welfare Association, Uttar Pradesh, told Newsclick.
Distraught and agitated over the “apathetic” attitude of the government, Pandey alleged: “25% of our salary which comes from the Centre goes into account numbers 102 and 104 (technical budget code) but now the state government has generated another – 103 – and our salary is being merged into 103 accounts. The employees who have been deputed at block level are given salary from 102 accounts and those at the district level avail salary from 104. Recently the Yogi government generated 103, a violation of financial law. The problem arose after the state government hired more people than the sanctioned posts. If they needed six people they hired 10 instead. So, the salary of four extra people is a burden on the government. Now they are diverting salary of the special cadre to the common cadre (103).”
Condemning the state government’s apathy, scores of Anganwadi workers and helpers under the banner of Child Development Project Officer Welfare Association have threatened an indefinite strike against the government.
The outfit, which represents lakhs of workers of ICDS in Uttar Pradesh, has also written to additional chief secretary Radha S. Chauhan, Commissioner, Finance Department, Sarika Mohan, Director, Child Development Services and Finance Controller of the Bal Vikas Pushtahar Department, Dilip Aggarwal, to address their grievances. However, they have been turned down.
“If the government won't give us our salary then their intention is crystal clear; they are taking away our rights,” the outfit’s president told Newsclick, adding that they will boycott work beginning next week and that senior officials would be responsible for it.
A 35-year-old female employee said: “All my savings have been drained and I have no resources left for sustenance. We haven’t received our salaries after November and do not know how long we can survive like this,” she told Newsclick.
Subhash Chandra Yadav, another employee, said: “I am yet to pay my daughter’s fees for five months which comes to Rs 15,000 as I haven’t received my salary for the past four months. My electricity bill has also been pending for six months and I have no strength to stretch it any further.”
INDIA DROPS TWO RANKS IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX
India dropped two ranks in the United Nations’ Human Development Index this year, and is at 131 out of 189 countries. Employees from the Bal Vikas Pushtahar Department said that those who have been given the responsibility of eradicating malnutrition from society are going hungry instead.
“The UP government is celebrating four years of its 'achievements' and spends crores of rupees on advertising; newspaper and television give space to the government to claim success but the irony is that their own employees have not received a salary for the last four months,” Pandey said.
The union wants the state government to recognise the work done by Anganwadi workers during the Polio vaccination drive and during COVID-19 to bolster the country’s health infrastructure and provide them with regular salaries. They also seek a budgetary increase in allocation for ICDS so that the infrastructure at Anganwadi centers can improve.
According to the 'Bal Vikas and Pushtahar Vibhag Fourth Grade Krarmchari Sangh’, 35,000 Anganwadi, mini-Anganwadi workers, helpers CDPO and DPO above the age of 62 were sacked by the government without any prior notice. Newsclick had reported on the story of employees sacked during COVID-19.