Anganwadi, meal staff to launch State-wide agitation on August 16

Pressing for their various demands, including payment of pending wages, withdrawal of the move to launch Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme for anganwadi children and pregnant women and inquiry into allegations of corruption in egg distribution, anganwadi and mid-day meal employees will launch a State-wide strike on August 16, president of Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers Association S. Varalakshmi has said.

“All anganwadi and mid-day meal employees will strike work and join the decentralised agitation that will be simultaneously held in all district headquarters on August 16. If the government doesn’t consider our demands, the employees will march to Bengaluru,” Ms. Varalakshmi, who is also honorary president of Karnataka State Midday Meal Workers Association, said at a press conference in Kalaburagi on Monday.

Expressing discontent over the government’s treatment of anganwadi workers who stood in the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 at the grassroots level, the trade union leader demanded that the government pay ₹30 lakh compensation as promised to anganwadi workers who died while discharging their duties as Corona Warriors in the State.

“As many as 35 anganwadi workers died due to work pressure and 28 more died to COVID-19 while discharging their duties during the first wave of COVID-19. As many as 29 more anganwadi workers died during the second wave of the pandemic. The government has not yet paid the compensation it promised,” she said.

Referring to the allegations of corruption in the purchase of eggs meant for anganwadi children, Ms. Varalakshmi said that Vidhana Soudha is a centre of corruption.

“The government is not giving money in advance for the purchase of eggs for anganwadi children and it is impossible for poor anganwadi workers to purchase eggs spending from their pockets. We had, therefore, demanded that the government itself purchase and supply eggs. The government authorities then misused the opportunity to misappropriate public money,” Ms. Varalakshmi said and demanded an inquiry into the allegations.

Opposing the government’s decision to switch to Direct Benefit Transfer mode in place of providing nutritious foodgrains to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and mid-day meals to anganwadi children, Ms. Varalakshmi said that such a move will prove to be disastrous as the beneficiaries may use the money received in their bank accounts for other purposes.

“It is because of mid-day meals that many children are coming to anganwadis and are having nutritious food and getting educated. If the expenditure incurred on each student for a meal is transferred to their parents’ bank accounts instead of providing food at anganwadis, there are good chances of the money being used for other purposes. The same will be the case with pregnant women and lactating mothers. The government move for DBT will definitely defeat the very purpose of the schemes,” Ms. Varalakshmi said.

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 3:54:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/anganwadi-meal-staff-to-launch-state-wide-agitation-on-august-16/article35682123.ece