ANDHRA PRADESH

Anganwadi workers lay siege to Govt. offices in Cuddapah Collectorate

Cuddapah Dec. 4. All Government offices on Cuddapah Collectorate premises were locked up on Thursday, bringing work to a grinding halt, owing to a day-long picketing by over 500 anganwadi workers and helpers, who stormed into the Collectorate and squatted inside, decrying "non-payment of salaries for six months and allowances for the last two years" and redress of other grievances.

Protesting women and CITU functionaries squatted on the road before the Collectorate gates from 9.30 a.m. and ensured closure of about a dozen offices on the premises, including the Cuddapah RDO's office, after sending the officials and staff out. The protesters had lunch on the Collectorate premises and continued to protest up to 4.30 p.m., until the Collector, Jayesh Ranjan, came and assured to resolve issues within his purview.

The A.P. Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union State secretary, Jyothi, the district honorary president, B. Narayana, the president, I.N. Subbamma, the secretary, Vijayalakshmi, the CITU general secretary, N. Ravisankar Reddy, the secretary, Ch. Chandrasekhar and the A.P. Mahila Congress district secretary, M. Saraswathi Devi, alleged that anganwadi workers and helpers had not been paid monthly wages of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 respectively in some ICDS projects for the last six months. They demanded enhancement of the salary to Rs. 2,500. They had not been paid dearness, travelling and house rent allowance for the last two years, they said and criticised the Chief Minister's claims of according priority to womenfolk They demanded scrapping of G.O. No. 20, which empowered the mothers' committees to recruit, remove and pay their salaries and sought implementation of G.O. No. 7 which stipulated issue of ration cards, house site pattas and pucca houses to anganwadi workers and helpers.

The MROs denied ration cards to anganwadi workers claiming that their annual salary exceeded the income ceiling of Rs. 11,000, they alleged. When the incharge Administrative Officer in the Collectorate, B.G. Ranganatham, empathised with their demands and assured to apprise the Collector, who was away at Rajampet, the protesters demanded a personal assurance from Mr. Ranjan and continued their protest.

The Collector assured to discuss the salary hike and G.O. No. 20 scrapping with the Minister for Woman and Child Welfare, S. Saraswathi. He assured issue of ration cards and house sites and urged the union leaders to forward mandal-wise lists.

He assured a meeting with union leaders next week and held talks with presidents and secretaries of anganwadi centres in his chambers, leading to calling off of the protest.

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