CITU lambasts Assam Government's decision to privatize mid-day meal

SILCHAR, Jan 6: Center of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Cachar-Hailakandi district committee, lambasted the decision of the Government of Assam for privatization of the mid day meal scheme andin the process pushing thefuture of the thousands ofwomen-workers engagedin cooking the meals. It was in 2005 that this scheme was implementedin 2005 and since then 1,00,350 workers have been rendering their services in the State of Assam. They were to be paid at the rate of 30 paise per student in a primary school which wasincreased to 40 paise. But,the payment to them wasnever in full and regular. In 2009, the Centre fixed their salary at Rs 1000 permonth and the State government of Assam decided to pay 10 per cent of it. But, the share ofthe State was never paid to them.
Quite unfortunately, in 2010, the State government decided to handover the implementation of the scheme to a private organization with the name of Akshaya Patra Foundation and to give a final shape to it for the entire state, initiative was taken on December 7, 2012 to begin it in a phased manner. The Union termed the decision as 'arbitrary and unjustified' as it amounted to deprive the poor and neglected women workers of the benefits of the scheme.
It was also inhuman that these mid day meal workers should be subjected to injustice for the last 7 years and after all their hard work and services they should now face retrenchment in flagrant violations of all cannons of social justice. Instead of regularizing their services, CITU observed they should now face an uncertain. The decision of the State government of Assam to involve Akshaya Patra Foundation was totally against the declared policy and norms of the Central Government.
The experts on child food have opined that the preparation and distribution of mid day meal from a central pool for the children would notbe hygienic and nutritious. The meal cooked in the premises of the school would be well looked after by the head of the institution as well as the teachers. The very objective of the scheme would be frustrated and at the same time the workers would also lose their meagrely paid jobs, the CITU pointed out.
The mid day meal workers with their meagre income have been maintaining their families in extreme adversity created by the ever escalating price rise of all commodities and unemployment. The decision of the State government to privatize the scheme cannot but smack of an anti people policy which various speakers including comrade Mukund Teli brought out while addressing the open session of CITU, Cachar-Hailakandi district at its open session of the 4th annual conference here on Saturday. (source=sentinelassam)

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