Services like child care from three months to six years, giving birth and death certificate and referring pregnant women to hospitals have been affected. 

 

As over 10,000 Anganwadi workers continue their agitation demanding better wages and regularisation of services, the integrated child development scheme in rural areas takes a severe hit. The workers are the backbone in villages who help the government to track pregnancies, child development from 3 months to six years.

 

Channajamani, an Anganwadi teacher from Hunsur Taluk of CM Siddaramaiah's home district of Mysuru, has received at least 20 calls from parents, family members and pregnant women from her village as she is responsible for the delivery of ICDS.

 

This duty includes services like child care from three months to six years, giving birth and death certificate, referring pregnant women to hospitals and primary health centres at the correct time. 

 

But from last three days, these services have taken a hit.

 

"This is just a trailer, 1.25 lakh Anganwadi workers have decided to stay back home and at the protest venue rather than taking part in the pulse polio drive on April 2. Siddaramaiah will have sleepless nights as the state is in deep trouble. We had waited for long on the promises; now we want everything in writing. Till then we will continue our protest," she said.

 

Kamalaskhi, a woman from Husnur village, who spoke to Asianet Newsable on the phone said she was supposed to get prenatal service on Tuesday, but that did not happen. 

 

"If the agitation reaches its logical end, she and many women like her can get a new lease of life in institutional deliveries". The way the protest is going on, child rights activists fear about the rising health risk for child and women.

 

"The malnutrition issue will increase; pregnant women's care and new mothers care is getting impacted as these workers are on strike. Many women who work in farmlands and other government offices and houses as maids have no option now and have to keep the children with them. The working women used to leave children at the Anganwadi, now that too is impacted," said Vasudev Sharma, Former Chairperson, Karnataka State  Commission for Child Rights Protection.

 

Meenakshi Sundaram, General Secretary of CITU, which is spearheading this agitation, says the workers are the backbone for women and child development, and if these sections are neglected,  then society will suffer. 

 

"There are 22 demands including regularisation of service, but right now, we want Rs 10,000 as monthly salary for teachers and Rs 7,500 for helpers," he said. The government has sent Principal Secretary of Women and Child Development Department, Uma Mahadevan to break the deadlock but the workers were not ready to listen.

 

"I only went to request the workers to send the pregnant women and children who are here in streets. I will also place the demands before the government," she said.