There are around 10,700 Anganwadi centres and about 22,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers in the national capital.
NEW DELHI: Sunita Kaushik, one of the 884 terminated Anganwadi workers, had never imagined that her life will turn upside down after the termination of her service. Sunita joined Anganwadi in 1994 as a worker and she was working on the Anand Parbat project.
“It was all of a sudden that I received my termination letter via WhatsApp. I have never imagined that my department will do this with me,” Sunita said.
Sunita lives in a rented accommodation with her husband and two sons in Karol Bagh. Her salary was around Rs 9,741 and she used to contribute this money to pay home rent, which is Rs 15,000 a month.
“But now the burden has increased on my husband. His small business of printing material is already at a loss. Several times, the landlord has asked us to vacate the home,” Sunita said. Sunita has cut spending on food items to manage her budget after the termination.
According to the Delhi government’s submission in the Delhi High Court, 884 Anganwadi workers were served termination notices and 11,942 were issued show cause notices by the Delhi government for participating in a 39-day strike earlier this year in January. There are around 10,700 Anganwadi centres and about 22,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers in the national capital.
On 8 August, members of the DSAWHU staged a protest outside the Lieutenant Governor’s office, demanding the reinstatement of their terminated staff. Bhagwati Chuhan, a resident of Gandhi Nagar, was working on the Geeta colony project, but she was terminated after 12 years of her service in Anganwadi as a worker.
She is a single mother with an autistic daughter. “It has become hard for me to manage home expenses. I am not even able to purchase diapers for my daughter,” Bhagwati said. She is currently working in a textile factory to make ends meet and she earns around Rs 3000 a month.
“I don’t know how I will manage in future what I am earning is less and currently, I am living on the mercy of my relative,” Bhagwati added.
“We have risked our lives amid the pandemic and delivered ration packages door to door,” Anita Kumari said. Anita is also a single mother with two kids. She and her mother both were working as helpers in Anganwadi and in March both were terminated.
“This termination came as a jolt for me. My minimal salary from the department was my only financial support to raise my kids since my husband had died in 2018” narrated Anita Kumari. When she joined Anganwadi in 2007, she was paid Rs 700 and in 2022, she was drawing Rs 4800 as salary. To manage her expenses after termination, she has started working as a domestic cook and she is earning around Rs 3000 a month.
“People from the Anganwadi union are helping us, last month they gave me Rs 6000. But how I will manage in future I don’t know,” Anita said. Anita has taken a debt of Rs 25,000 from relatives and now she is worried about how she will pay them back.
At present, Anganwadi workers in Delhi receive a monthly honorarium of around Rs 9,600 and helpers around Rs 4,800. They’re demanding an increase to Rs 25,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively.
As a result of the protest, the Delhi government raised the honorarium to Rs 12,720 for Anganwadi workers and to Rs 6,810 for helpers. The workers continued their protest as they were demanding higher remuneration and regularisation of their services.