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ASHA workers stage protest over remuneration

Accredited Social Health Activists staged a protest after a meeting held by Naveen Patnaik.

Berhampur: Accredited Social Health Activists (Asha) today staged a protest after a meeting held by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, when he did not announce anything on a hike in their monthly remuneration.

As soon as the meeting was over, hundreds of Asha workers, who had come from across Ganjam district, shouted slogans in protest against the Chief Minister`s alleged silence on their demand for raising their monthly salary to at least Rs 5,000.

During the meeting, many of them vociferously protested when Revenue Minister SN Patro in his address described Patnaik as `Kamadhenu` who showered welfare schemes on everybody.

Raising their hands, the Asha workers rejected Patro`s claim shouting, "Nothing for us."

They, however, calmed down when Health Minister Damodar Rout assured them from the stage that their demand would be considered after examining emoluments of their counterparts in other states.

"We are highly disappointed that the Chief Minister did not utter a word for us. We expected him to announce some benefits for us," Namita Acharya, secretary of the Ganjam district Asha Workers Association, said.

"Governments in some other states have fixed the monthly salary of Asha workers. West Bengal government announced fixed salary for Asha workers last week. Our government is not heeding our demands despite our protests several times," Asha worker Bauri Jena said.

The workers are engaged under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scheme. They are now getting payment on the basis of assistance in institutional delivery. While in rural areas they get Rs 350 per delivery, in urban areas it is Rs 200 per delivery, the workers said.

The government also engages them in health-related activities like distribution of medicines and attending to malaria and TB cases, they added.