BJD rolls out incentives for anganwadi workers in Odisha

With an eye on women voters, Odisha government raises retirement benefits, offers smartphones

Looking for votes from women in the forthcoming local body polls, the Naveen Patnaik government on Saturday announced an increase in the retirement benefits of anganwadi workers, and smartphones for community resource persons-community mobilisers (CRP-CM) involved in women self-help groups (SHG).

The retirement benefits of anganwadi workers has been raised from ₹20,000 to ₹40,000. Similarly, incentives for mini-anganwadi workers and anganwadi assistants have been doubled from ₹15,000 to ₹30,000 and ₹10,000 to ₹20,000, respectively.

About 1.30 lakh anganwadi workers will benefit from the announcement, which comes into force retrospectively from January 1, 2019.

Similarly, CRP-CMs — members of women SHGs who handhold and guide groups of SHGs after training — will now receive ₹1,000 towards a “cloth allowance”; ₹5,000 for smartphones of their choice; ₹3,000 as monthly remuneration; ₹350 as monthly travel allowance; and ₹250 as telephone allowance.

In the past two decades, Mr. Patnaik’s government has reaped electoral successes largely due to women voters, who have extended their unflinching support for the regional party. The ‘Mission Shakti’ programme, which seeks grassroots social and economic empowerment of women, is one of the major reasons behind the winning streak.

“The Mission Shakti revolution has transformed lives of 70 lakh women in the State. This year, ₹6,000 crore [of bank loans] has been extended to women SHGs. Besides, ₹200 crore has been deposited in bank accounts of SHGs for interest subvention,” Chief Minister’s Office said on Saturday.

The smartphones and phone allowances will benefit about 50,000 CRP-CMs.

A political observer who did not wish to be named said, “Both anganwadi workers and CRP-CMs are key members in villages and can influence voters’ decision during elections. The government is trying to keep them in good humour.”

State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi on Saturday convened a meeting with the Odisha Chief Secretary, the Health and Family Welfare Secretary, and Special Relief Commissioners, to take stock of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State. He discussed the likelihood of holding elections amidst rising COVID-19 cases.

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