By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, March 1: The massive cut in the allocation for the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in the Union Budget, 2016-17 has provoked the ire of the Assam Rajyik Anganwadi Karmi and Sahayika Santha (ARAKSS). Anganwadi helpers and workers of the State staged a dhar at Prashanti Udyan at Dighalipukhuripar in the city today in protest against, what they call, this year’s anti-children and anti-women Union Budget.
In a statement issued to the press today, ARAKSS president Nirada Kakati and secretary Indira Newar said: “The Union Budget announced by Arun Jaitley yesterday is anti-children and anti-women. The massive cut in allocation for the ICDS has reflected the negligence of the Centre towards women and children. The ICDS is meant for the welfare of eight crore undernourished and two crore pregnt women in the country. However, the government at the Centre has been on a spree to cut the allocation against this scheme in its successive Budgets.”
“The erstwhile Planning Commission did propose an allocation of Rs 28,454 crore for ICDS in the 2016-17 Budget. NITI Ayog accepted the proposal, but slashed the allocation to only Rs 16,119 crore. In the Union Budget of 2015-16 also, the Centre allocated only Rs 8,245 crore for ICDS against Rs 18,108 crore in the Budget the year before. It was because of relentless agitation by Anganwadi workers and helpers the allocation was raised to Rs 18,000 crore during the Supplementary Allocation. Had the Centre been really eager to help undernourished children, pregnt women, ensure sanitary disposal of urils and latrines, supplying potable water, etc., it would have allocated at least Rs 77,830 crore for ICDS,” Kakati and Newar said.
The other demands of the Santha are protection of children and women, fixing the minimum salary of Anganwadi helpers at Rs 15,000 a month, regularization of the jobs of angawadi workers, helpers, mini-anganwadi workers and helpers etc.