Smt. Smriti Irani
Honourable Minister for WCD
Governemnt of India
Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi- 110 001
Sub:- Measures to ensure safety and protection of Anganwadi Workers and helpers
Ref:- Our Letter dated 27 March 2020
At the beginning of the second phase of the lockdown and fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, we would like to clearly state that the anganwadi workers and helpers of the country are proud to be part of this great fight to save the humanity, risking our own lives although recognized least.
This letter is in continuation to our earlier letter dated 27 March 2020 on issues of safety of anganwadi workers and helpers and food security to the beneficiaries. (Copy Attached for ready reference). Your ministry directive No.F.No.13/5/2020- CD-II dated 30 March 2020 has taken care of some of the issues we have raised.
As you are already aware, In almost all the states the anganwadi workers and helpers are engaged in the local team of surveys tracking those who came from abroad, from outside the state and district, finding out the migrant workers, isolated and immobile people, people with different ailments, those who are in hunger and despair, campaign for safety measures, providing masks, sanitary pads, medicines, food etc., during the COVID19 epidemic and lock down. It is also to be noted that in many sttes they are given duty to monitor the Covid patients and people in quarantine. These duties are in addition to the door to door supply of supplementary nutrition, We would like to draw your attention to the alarming situation via a vis the anganwadi workers and helpers t the ground. Firstly, in spite of your ministry guidelines, in most of the states, the anganwadi workers and helpers are not provided with proper training, any equipments for safety, including masks, gloves and sanitisers. They are even asked to purchase hand sanitisers and masks out of their pockets. We have got the case of anganwadi workers infected by Covid in Maharashtra (one of the first cases), one in Rajasthan and unconfirmed case in West Bengal. Since the number of tests is too low, we cannot say how many workers are infected as of now. This situation is not only putting not only the lives of the anganwadi workers, but also of the people under risk.
Secondly, the workers and their families are being threatened and being attacked for moving door to door and reporting about the cases of travel abroad etc. We have already brought to your notice the case in Bihar where a worker was attacked. Beebi Nagna Khatun from Indrapur village (Ward No 12), Rampur Panchayat, Supaul, Bihar, and her husband and nephew were attacked in her house and severely injured. This is because as part of her assigned duty she had reported to the authorities about two persons in the village who had returned from abroad recently. The relatives of those influential people attacked her family in her house in vengeance. Unfortunately no action was taken by Police as of now. Even the expense for treatment of the worker was not met by the department.
In Karnataka, Davanagere district, Honnali project, Bidarahalli village, Shashikala Bai, a Mini Anganwadi worker was attacked during the survey for advising people coming from affected areas to
go in quarantine. Her sari was removed and as she somehow managed to escape, again was attacked in her home. She was hospitalised for three days. Only due to the intervention of our union
she could get her complaint registered. In a similar case in Karnataka, Chikkaballapura District Shidlagatta project Kotahalli another workers along with ASAH worker was attacked. But instead of
registering her complaint, the police was lodging false case against her. Here also our union has to intervene to stop the harassment and victimization. You may also be aware that an anganwadi worker who was on continuous duty monitoring a corona patient in Bhilwara died last week. It is not sure that whether her claimants are given any compensation.
In this circumstance, it is all the more relevant that the states are instructed that all frontline anganwadi workers must be covered under the insurance scheme announced for all engaged in
fighting Covid-19 pandemic. It is also to be noted that the treatment or quarantine of the frontline workers are not covered under the scheme. In addition to these issues, because of the lockdown many other works of different departments like entire responsibility of distributing old age/widow pension etc are also being assigned to the anganwadi workers by district administration. These works cannot be solely assigned to the anganwadi workers. All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH), the trade union federation representing more than five lakhs anganwadi workers and helpers from 24 states, feels these genuine concerns of the anganwadi workers and helpers need to be addressed urgently.
We reiterate our demands
1. All the workers engaged in community services must be provided with protective measurers comprising of masks, gloves, full cover suits, hand sanitizers and soap etc. To all those who are asked to monitor covid patients and those who have assigned duty in hotspots/red zones must be given full cover PPEs.
2. Ensure security of the field workers including anganwadi workers engaged in surveys, awareness etc.
3. All the anganwadi workers/helpers must be given proper training before being sent to conduct surveys etc.
4. Pending wages and all allowances of anganwadi workers and helpers must be released immediately (as in many states wages etc from 2-6 months are pending) and ensure regular payment of wages.
5. Additional remuneration of Rs.10000per month must be paid to all frontline scheme workers for three months for this high risk work
6. The Supplementary Nutrition must be given as food items (food grains, pulses, oil, jiggery, dry fruits, eggs etc) in adequate quantity (at least double the normal ration) for all the
beneficiaries during the period of lock down. The anganwadi workers and helpers must be given facilities for transportation etc for distribution
7. Ensure the Insurance coverage of Rs.50 lakhs as announced by the FM, to all anganwadi workers engaged in outdoor activities during lock down; Include expenses for treatment and quarantine in the insurance. Cover the families of frontline workers under this insurance scheme We hope that you will intervene personally in the matter and issue necessary orders to the states to ensure that the above measures are taken immediately, in order to deal more effectively with the corona virus epidemic.
We are happy to inform you that as part of our commitment and solidarity to working people, in addition to the assigned work by the government, AIFAWH units in different states are organizing
relief and solidarity measurers like preparation and distribution of masks,(around one lakh masks already distributed) distribution of soaps, food items etc.
A R Sindhu