Stir impairs rural projects

Bhubaneswar: Several welfare projects and works in the panchayati raj and drinking water department are expected to be badly hit in the coming days by the workers’ decision to intensify their agitation.
Although top officials have held several rounds of discussions with the agitating workers of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and Anganwadis, the meetings have failed to resolve the issues. On the other hand, the protesting workers said they will not call off the stir till their demands are met.
More than one lakh Anganwadi workers have been staying away from work for about a month and their intensified protests will affect various welfare schemes like Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
‘‘We are demanding a minimum pay of Rs 18,000 for an Anganwadi worker and Rs 9000 for the helper. Currently,
an Anganwadi worker gets Rs 4,000 a month and a helper Rs 2,000. We are struggling to manage with this salary and demand a hike. This apart, we are demanding retirement benefits to Anganwadi workers and helpers,” said All Orissa Anganwadi Ladies Workers’ Association leader Anjali Patel.
Similarly, the recently launched agitation of MGNREGS workers employed with panchayati raj and drinking water department will impair projects in the rural areas. According to MGNREGS Workers Association, more than 5,000 workers are participating in their indefinite strike.
‘‘We’re demanding direct payment of the salary of MGNREGS workers of panchayati raj and drinking water department. The government has also to abolish outsourcing system and we demand salary as per the 7th Pay Commission,’’ said Manas Ranjan Das, president, Orissa MGNREGS Workers’ Association. Women and Child Development Minister Prafulla Samal who held a meeting with the anganwadi workers in the evening sought 45 days to sort out the issue. However, the meeting remained inconclusive as the agitators decided to continue their stir.

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