Bhubaneswar: Thousands of Anganwadi workers demonstrated outside the Odisha assembly Friday over a host of issues, including a hike in pay and retirement benefits, as the proceedings began for the monsoon session.
Raising slogans, they demonstrated under the banner of the All Odisha Anganwadi Ladies Workers Association (AOALWA) at Lower PMG.
Among their demands were government employee status, a hike in pay, and retirement benefits, including pension.
AOALWA president Sumita Mohapatra said they called off their protest in November after the state government promised that a meeting would be held with them in February over their demands, but no such step has so far been taken.
The protesters threatened to boycott the 2024 elections if their demands were not fulfilled.
Finance Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha said the government has formed an inter-ministerial committee to look into the demands raised by teachers, Anganwadi workers, and other employees.
The committee already held two meetings, and discussions will be held with the protestors in the coming days, he said.
“The government will make all efforts to fulfill their demands,” he added.
The opposition BJP and Congress extended their support to the protesting Anganwadi workers, and said that they would raise their demands in the assembly.
“Odisha is giving a very low remuneration to Anganwadi workers in comparison to other states. We are extending our support to their demands and will put pressure on the government to fulfill them,” said BJP MLA Mukesh Mahaling.
Congress MLA CS Raazen Ekka said his party would also raise the demands of the Anganwadi workers in the House during the session.