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Somatirtha Purohit

Thousands of Anganwadi workers stage a protest at the Mahatma Gandhi Marg in Bhubaneswar on Monday demanding increase in wages and recognition as government employees.

The protesters under the banner of All Odisha Anganwadi Ladies Workers Association raised slogans against the Social Welfare Department and the government for the failure to fulfil their demands.

They alleged that the promises are yet to be fulfilled and they purpose of the agitation is to draw the attention of the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and the 5T Secretary over their demands. They threatened to continue the stir till their demands are met.

A delegation of Anganwadi workers accused Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik of not fulfilling his (pre-election) promises. “CM Naveen Patnaik promised to fulfil our five demands-- salary hike, increase in retirement age, 50% promotion as supervisor, summer holidays and pension benefits. Instead, he only increased our work tenure” a protestor said. 

They demanded to remove the previous Anganwadi scheme and recognise them as government employees with Rs 21,000 monthly salary. They also demanded minimum wage of Rs 10,500 for Anganwadi co-workers.

Earlier in November, over 10,000 Gaon Sathis, involved in assisting implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), had launched an indefinite strike in Bhubaneswar to press for their five-point charter of demands. The Gaon Sathis, under the aegis of joint action committee, took out a rally from Ram Mandir Square to Lower PMG square before launching their indefinite strike. Their demands include Rs 6,000 monthly allowance and incentives, among others.

Earlier on November 25, the Odisha government had directed all district Collectors to set up Anganwadi centres (AWC) in government primary schools premises.

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