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Anganwadi staffers' protest causes gridlock in CBD areas

Bengaluru: March 21, 2017, DHNS 2:06 IST
Anganwadi workers sleep on Sheshadri Road during their protest seeking higher wages on Monday night. dh photo by B K Janardhan

Anganwadi workers sleep on Sheshadri Road during their protest seeking higher wages on Monday night. dh photo by B K Janardhan

Thousands of Anganwadi workers took to the streets, demanding a hike in their wages, near Freedom Park on Monday. Protesters refused to budge from the venue and halted there overnight. The protest left the traffic choked in the Central Business District during peak hours.

Thousands of them, under the aegis of CITU, sat on the streets in protest, claiming that talks with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were not fruitful. They said the budgetary allocation made this year was meagre to meet their demands of hike in wages.

S Varalakshmi, president, Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers Association, said they had demanded that the government increase the wages of anganwadi workers from Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 and that of helpers from Rs 3,000 to Rs 7,500. “We will not budge till this is assured. To pay us the wages, there must be an allocation of Rs 612 crore. This year, only 110 crore has been allocated. When they can increase the work hours from 4.5 to 6.5, why not hike our wages?” she said.

Protesters complained that even as they had been recruited to work for the ICDS scheme, they were expected to be part of various other government schemes. The workers met Siddaramaiah in the evening.

“It was an informal meet. He gave us an oral assurance that our demands will be looked into. In 2015, when a similar protest took place, he told us our demands will be fulfilled. Nothing has happened till date,” said Varalakshmi.

Rathna Gowda, one of the protesters said, “I am finding it very difficult to manage the family with the meagre salary. We are expected to participate in all the schemes that state’s health department rolls out as well, but do not not get any additional incentives for the same.”

“ Several influential people meddle in our work at the taluk level. Each of them has different demands from us. There is none to address our problems,” said another worker from Hubballi on the condition of anonymity.

Vehicular movement was hit on major roads in and around Majestic as protesting Anganwadi workers blocked Sheshadri Road and sat on a protest. “There was heavy congestion since 10 am when the protesters began their procession from railway station. The situation went out of control by noon as they blocked Sheshadri Road,” said a police officer.

This resulted in a traffic gridlock on Kempegowda Road, Cubbon Road, Ambedkar Veedhi, Mysuru Road, KR Circle, Sheshadripuram, Okalipuram, Dr Rajkumar Road, Goods Shed Road, Cottonpet Main Road, Richmond Road, Raja Rammohun Roy Road, Dhanvanthri Road, Railway Station Road, Tank Bund Road, Platform Road and Khoday’s Junction.

Vehicles were lined up in a long queue from Khoday’s Junction till Navarang Junction on Dr Rajkumar Road for over two hours.

There was heavy congestion of vehicles on the interior roads in Upparpet, Chickpet, Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, Vyalikaval, Basaveshwaranagar and Mahalakshmi Layout.

Passengers were forced to get down from BMTC buses and walk up to Kempegowda bus station. The police deployed additional forces at all junctions to manage the traffic. The situation was normal by night, said DCP (Traffic-West) Shobha Rani.

DH News Service

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