Rashmi Rekha Das

Anganwadi workers, who have been protesting over their various demands for the last 45 days, took out a grand rally at Lower PMG Square in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday in protest against the State government’s alleged dillydallying attitude in fulfilling their long-pending demands.

They have threatened to block National Highway 16 during the upcoming Men's Hockey World Cup which will commence from January 13.
Their demands include government employee status, a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 after retirement and compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of an Anganwadi worker in case of death. Besides, they have been demanding a monthly salary of Rs 18,000 for Anganwadi workers and Rs 9,000 for their assistants. 

Meanwhile, a delegation of the agitating Anganwadi workers has left for Naveen Niwas to have a discussion with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and convey their New Year wishes.

An Anganwadi worker said, “Chief Minster belongs to our constituency. He is very soft-hearted. However, some bureaucrats are taking advantage of his softness. These administrative officers are not letting the Chief Minister know about our plight. We are not sure whether our Chief Minister is aware of our protest which entered 46 days today. We are hopeful that our demands will be addressed soon.”  

“Though the government held discussions many times, it is yet to reach a consensus. This is New Year's time. Everyone loves spending time with their families. But this time, we had a harrowing time as we had to spend nights in chilling winter,” another Anganwadi worker said.

She went on to add, "We wrote to the state government a number of times in support of our demands. But the government did not respond to those letters. Instead, the government insulted us and put more burden on us.”

 “If our demands are not met, we would intensify our protest in the coming days. We have decided to block National Highway 16 during Hockey World Cup if our demands are not considered. If the government will fulfill our demands, we will vacate this place at the earliest”, said an irate protestor. 

Notably, about 60,000 Anganwadi centres across the state are shut now due to the indefinite strike launched by them, hampering the education of children.

Meanwhile, Anganwadi workers put protest on hold till February second week.

Reported by Kapilendra Pradhan, OTV