Nagpur: Around 2000 women workers belonging to 200 self-help groups in the district have become jobless after the State government allowed Akshaya Patra Foundation to provide free mid-day meals to the children studying in schools run by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). The affected women workers are now worried about their livelihood and have expressed anger over the government’s insensitivity towards them.
The 2000 women workers were employed to prepare mid-day meals for students at different NMC-run primary schools in the district. On 20 August 2016, Chief Minister Devendra Phadnavis launched the new scheme that removed these women from the jobs and allowed Akshaya Patra Foundation to provide free mid-day meals to the students. Though the CM had announced that these women workers would be provided alternate employment, however the government didn’t show any sensitivity towards these women, who are now struggling to survive.
The affected women said that they never protested the entry of Akshaya Patra Foundation in the work. What they wanted was only some alternate work so that they could feed their families. Mangala Tirpude, one of the affected women, said, “We had been preparing mid-day meals for students from the time when we used to get only 50 paise per student. We were getting Rs 7.50 per student when we were removed from jobs.
Many times we didn’t get the payments in time, but we never kept the kids hungry for that,” Mangala said in an emotional tone.
Sarika Upare, another woman from a self-help group, said, “Most of these women workers are widows, who are the only earning members in their families. The NMC has displayed its anti-women attitude by throwing them out of the jobs.”