Pay compensation to anganwadi COVID-19 warriors: Association

Threatens govt. of holding ‘Bengaluru Chalo’ during the forthcoming budget session

Karnataka State Anganwadi-Midday Meal Workers Association president S. Varalakshmi on Saturday urged the government to release compensation to the families of 26 anganwadi workers who were at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 in the State.

Speaking to reporters in Udupi, Ms. Varalakshmi said in all, 113 anganwadi workers were infected with COVID-19, of which 27 workers died, including two in Udupi district. The government has released ₹30 lakh compensation to only one COVID-19 victim leaving the families of the remaining in distress. Apart from COVID-19 deaths, 35 anganwadi workers died due to work-related stress post March 24, 2020, she said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Varalakshmi criticised the government’s reluctance in releasing funds to purchase eggs to be given to kids at anganwadis. The government should release funds in advance to buy eggs; however, anganwadi workers were buying eggs paying from their pockets. Money was not released to anganwadis since seven months in Udupi district to buy eggs, she lamented, and added henceforth, workers would not buy eggs paying from their pockets.

Ms. Varalakshmi also said the association opposes the policy of opening centralised kitchens as mandated by the New Education Policy for providing food to kids. The Central government has already issued a circular this effect, following which thousands of midday meal scheme workers would lose their jobs. Urging the government to withdraw the direction, she also demanded immediate payment of wages to midday meal workers due since September 2020.

The government that did not offer COVID-19 compensation, special allowance, pension, and other basic amenities to anganwadi workers, has provided 65,000 mobile phone handsets to them, which is an irony, she said. The association would hold ‘Bengaluru Chalo’ during the forthcoming budget session of the Karnataka legislature espousing all these issues.

Association district president Bharathi was present.

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