Anganwadi workers up in arms

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IMPHAL, October 31: The Anganwadi workers and helpers of the state ICDS will cease work from November 6 onwards if their backlog salary is not paid.

Protesting the negligence of the state Social Welfare Department for not clearing their dues which are pending since January 2012, irate Anganwadi employees held a sit in protest in front of the Social Welfare Department which is located along the Imphal Dimapur national highway today.

M Bimola, President of The Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union, Manipur said that the honorarium of the Anganwadi workers and helpers has been regularly sanctioned from the Union Ministry and a government statement had admitted the same.

The ICDS is 90 % centrally sponsored.

She questioned as to why the wages are not paid even though the government has clarified that it has been regularly receiving funds from the Centre and that the utilization certificates have been given quarterly for further sanction to the ministry.

The due payment is from January last and honorarium has not been given for ten months, she said.

A memorandum submitted by the Union to state Social Welfare minister Ak Mirabai states that if the backlog wages are not released before November 5, then the workers and helpers will not attend to their duties at the Anganwadi centres from the following day onwards.

It further decried the axing of 3 Anganwadi centres recently and said that such action should be reviewed. Further, more than 60 employees have been retired from Anganwadi service by the Social Welfare Department recently without prior information. This is against the norms laid down by the Supreme Court of India. The Anganwadi is a honorary service and employees may serve as long as they are fit. It was demanded that either the age barrier be relaxed or pension benefits be given.

They also appealed that the stance to constitute an Anganwadi Level Monitoring and Review Committee to review the progress of the ICDS is not practicably applicable.

Moreover, the strikers voiced that minister Ak Mirabai had promised certain benefits for the workers and helpers at a reception function held at Kangla on September 24 last.

Inclusive of the uniform and other kits which were promised to be tendered, and none has been translated into action.

It may be mentioned that this paper had recently reported on missing wages in Social Welfare Department amounting to about Rs 50 crores. However the departmental statement did not clarify the three months backlog which has been evident since 2008.

Now, the agitation launched by the Anganwadi employees substantiate the report published on IFP that if the money has been received by the Department, then why is the ICDS staff still not being paid in totality.

This reporter went to the Social Welfare Department to ask the concerned officials including the director, joint director and deputy directors, but none were found in the department. The security guard had mentioned that all had left for some purpose or the other.

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