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Privatisation of midday meal scheme condemned

Staff Reporter

Akshara Dasoha employees are on an indefinite fast until their demands are met


Midday meal scheme goes to ISKCON, Adyama Chetana

More than 6,000 cooks have lost their jobs


— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Cooking up a storm: Akshara Dasoha workers staging a protest against privatisation of the midday meal scheme, in Bangalore on Monday.

Bangalore: Opposing the State Government’s move to privatise the Akshara Dasoha (midday meal) scheme, members of the Akshara Dasoha Employees’ Union started an indefinite fast in the city from Monday.

Led by the leaders of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the Akshara Dasoha workers marched from the City Railway Station to Banappa Park shouting slogans against the Government for handing over the scheme to organisations such as ISKCON, Adyama Chetana and various religious maths. The protesters said they would continue the strike till their demands are met.

Union General Secretary T. Leelavathi said, of the 1.2 lakh cooks appointed by the State Government for the midday meal scheme, more than 6,000 had already lost their jobs following privatisation in some districts of Bellary, Mangalore and Belgaum. Though the Government had said that the scheme would offer employment opportunities to women in rural areas, it was going back on its word now, she said.

“While the head cooks are paid Rs. 650 a month, the first and second helpers get Rs. 450 and Rs. 300 respectively. They were appointed in 2001, and their salaries have remained stagnant. We also want the Government to hike our wages and give us maternity benefits and accident insurance,” Ms. Leelavathi said.

The protesters submitted a memorandum to the Education Secretary (Primary and Secondary Education) Vandita Sharma, who was present at the spot.

“Though she took our memorandum, she has not given us any assurance,” she said.

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