Mrunal Manmay Dash

Thousands of ASHA workers have been sitting on dharna at the Lower PMG square in Bhubaneswar after the Budget Session of the Odisha Assembly kicked off on Tuesday.

They are demanding regularisation of jobs with a minimum monthly salary of Rs 26,000.

Speaking to OTV, a protesting ASHA worker said, “ASHA workers should be included in the labourer category. They must get a minimum pay of Rs 26,000 per month and a pension of Rs 10,000. We have been urging the government since many years. But the government is only busy in using us as bonded labourers.”

“Our undaunted courage to provide health services during Covid times was applauded even by the international bodies. But we are deprived of the minimum pay,” she added.

Another ASHA worker said, “The government is in a deep slumber. CM Naveen Patnaik was praised because of our works, but he is far from considering our demands. While Naveen Patnaik has been patting his back claiming empowerment of the women, he has surprisingly turned his face away from us.”

Even the Anganwadi workers in Odisha protested for 45 days against the State government’s alleged dillydallying attitude in fulfilling their long-pending demands.

Their demands included 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.

However, they put their protest on hold till the second week of February after the government assured them to look into their demands.

(Reported By Atulya Bout, OTV)