Mumbai: The state budget presented by state Finance Minister Ajit Pawar on March 11 turned out to be a great disappointment for Anganwadi workers in the state. Pawar did not announce a hike in the Anganwadi workers’ honorarium, which has prompted the workers to take their protest to the next level. They plan to organise a rally in the state capital as well as sit-in protests across the state in the coming days.
On February 23, a large number of Anganwadi workers had reached Azad Maidan in Mumbai to highlight their demands such as a hike in the honorarium and a monthly pension. They had submitted a detailed memorandum to the erstwhile BJP government as well as the incumbent Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government – but to no avail.
Anganwadi workers get Rs 4,500 to Rs 7,000 as honorarium in Maharashtra. They have been asking for a hike in the honorarium in tandem with the inflation.
Their other demands include: quality mid day meal for all the beneficiaries, an easy-to-handle Marathi application to fill in the daily reports, a good mobile phone, increase in daily allowances, recruitment against vacant posts and promotions that have been due. All these demands were presented to Idzes Kundan, principal secretary of the Women and Child Development Department. She had also visited Azad Maidan on February 23. The state government had then assured that the honorarium would be increased and the protesters had concluded their three-day protest on the first day itself.
"We thought that the state government would make the announcement in the budget speech. But there was no such announcement. This is a betrayal and Anganwadi workers will relaunch the protest now," said MA Patil, a leader of the Maharashtra state Anganwadi Workers Action Committee.
Anganwadi workers’ national union has already given a call for protest on March 28-29. Workers from Maharashtra, too, will participate in the wider national agitation against the anti-farmer and anti-labour policies of the central government.
"Farmers joined hands and brought the Modi government to its knees. The government had to roll back the three farm laws. Similarly, Anganwadi workers from across the country will force the central as well as state government to change its policies. A hike in honorarium and the monthly pension scheme are important demands. Anganwadi workers won't stop until these demands are fulfilled," said Shubha Shmamim, leader of Maharashtra Anganwadi Workers Action Committee.