KL This Week: Onam Kits for AAY Card Holders, Ex-gratia for Employment Guarantee Scheme Workers
Image by R Prakash.
NewsClick brings you a round-up of the important developments in Kerala in the past week, including the protest of the ASHA Workers' Federation, the distribution of Onam kits to around 6 lakh card holders, a grant of Rs 1,000 for 4.6 lakh workers of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) and Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme (AUEGS) who have completed 100 days of work, and the hartal in Idukki district by the United Democratic Front (UDF).
ASHA WORKERS HOLD PROTEST
The ASHA Workers Federation, affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), held rallies in all districts at the District Program Managers' (DPM) and District Medical Officer (DMO) offices. The workers were forced to take out the rallies across the state owing to "continued humiliation" by the higher officials.
G Prema, the general secretary of the Federation, speaking to NewsClick, accused the officials of continuing their apathy despite repeated representations. “The workers are so stressed that they are unable to carry out their routine work. The increasing workload is also a cause of concern for the workers,” she said.
The Federation has urged the Union government to increase the incentives for carrying out different works and the state government to hike the honorarium as promised.
ONAM KITS TO YELLOW CARD HOLDERS, BONUS FOR WELFARE BOARD MEMBERS
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has announced the disbursal of Onam Kits with 14 essential groceries to around 5,87,691 Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cardholders and 20,000 residents of various welfare institutions. The Cabinet approved an initial allocation of Rs 32 lakh for the purpose.
The harvest festival of Onam falls on August 29, ahead of which the government has also announced Rs 1,000 ex gratia for workers of MNREGA and AUEGS who have worked for 100 days. A total of Rs 46 crore has been allocated to disburse the 4.6 lakh workers.
The government has already commenced the disbursal of welfare pensions for two months to 60 lakh beneficiaries, including Rs 212 crores for beneficiaries of different welfare boards.
UDF'S HARTAL IN IDUKKI
The UDF held a hartal in the hill district of Idukki on August 18 demanding amendments to Land Regulations restrictions imposed through acts in 1964 and 1993. The shops and establishments, educational institutions and public transport were affected from dawn to dusk.
The UDF has urged the state government to lift the construction ban in 13 panchayats around Munnar under the Cardamom Hills Reserve (CHR) area implemented in 2019. The UDF also sought exemption for human settlements from buffer zones and measures to control human-animal conflicts in the district.
PUTHUPPALLY BYPOLL CAMPAIGN GATHERS MOMENTUM
The bypoll for the Puthuppally assembly segment, which fell vacant after the death of former chief minister Oommen Chandy, is in full swing, with extensive campaigning by LDF, UDF, and BJP candidates. The battle is mainly between Jaick C Thomas of LDF and Chandy Oommen of UDF, considering BJP's declining vote share in the constituency.
A total of seven candidates are in the fray for the poll scheduled on September 5. The fight is considered prestigious for the UDF since the constituency was held by Oommen Chandy uninterrupted for 53 years. Though his victory margin fell to 9,044 in 2021 from 27,092 in 2016, the former CM managed to hold the fort.
The vote share of the BJP fell from 11.93% in 2016 to 8.87% in 2021. The BJP has fielded G Lijin Lal, the Kottayam district president of the party, for the bypoll.
FLOWERS BLOOMING ACROSS KERALA
Flower cultivation for the Onam festival has expanded to several districts across the state this year. From Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod, farmers, local self-governments, and women's self-help groups have engaged in marigold farming to meet the demands of the Onam festival.
P P Divya, the district panchayat president of Kannur, inaugurated harvesting in one of the fields. (Image courtesy: P P Divya)
‘Athapookalam,’ a flower rangoli, is an integral part of the Onam celebrations, requiring different flowers with various colors. While most flower requirements are traditionally met from markets in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Kerala has increased its flower cultivation efforts over the past two years.
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