Cassian Baliarsingh

Thousands of ASHA workers, the lifeline of Odisha Health Service, once again hit the streets to press for their 13-point charter of demands at Lower PMG in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

The ASHA workers alleged that despite their repeated protests, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Fed up with alleged government apathy, the health workers assembled at Lower PMG and threatened to boycott the upcoming 2024 General Elections if their 13-point charter of demands were not fulfilled immediately.

“We have been working since 2006. The government is taking all the credit while we are the ones working tirelessly. We are the ones who reduced the mortality rate of pregnant mothers and newborns and we were the Covid-19 warriors during the pandemic. However, now we have to fight for our stomach,” rued an ASHA worker.

“Our main demand is regularisation of job with a minimum monthly salary of Rs 26,000,” she added.

Similarly, another ASHA worker said, “What does the Naveen Patnaik-led government think of us? They have been dillydallying our long-pending demands. But, let them not forget that we are mothers and we can do anything. They will also be cheated someday like they are cheating us now.”

“We are being used as bonded labourers to do everything for everyone starting from small children to elderly persons. But, the government makes tall claims of ‘Maa Ra Sanman (Respect)’. During the Covid-19 period, when everyone else was quarantined and enjoying family times with their near ones, we were forced to leave behind our kids at home and serve the people. Now, no one cares for us and we are left to fend for ourselves,” alleged another ASHA worker.

Earlier, the ASHA workers had protested against the State government and later put their protest on hold after the government assured them to look into their demands. They hit the street again after their demands were allegedly not fulfilled.

(Reported by Chandan Paikray, OTV)