| Mumbai |
Updated: June 26, 2020 1:55:29 am
The state government announced Thursday Rs 1,000 hike for Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) supervisors, deputed in the frontline of the fight against the novel coronavirus disease. An ASHA supervisor or facilitator will now get Rs 3,000 per month apart from other incentives. Earlier, their fixed pay was Rs 2,000 per month.
“ASHAs are a strong pillar of health infrastructure for us. They are going out to do surveys for Covid-19 and provide strong health support in the rural areas. We have taken a decision to increase their fixed salary,” state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday.
The hike, however, is restricted to the 3,500 ASHA facilitators in Maharashtra and not all the 70,000 ASHAs. A supervisor is tasked to monitor 10 ASHAs in rural areas and 25 workers in urban areas.
The selective increment, however, has rankled many ASHA workers across the state. “What about the ASHAs who are doing all work and still not getting paid enough,” said Maya Bholap, an ASHA from Nashik.
Currently, an ASHA works on 70 health programmes and receive Rs 1,000 from the central government for book-keeping, Rs 500 for the data fed on the computer, Rs 250 for mobile bills and Rs 250 to attend monthly meetings. Apart from this, they are entitled to financial incentives for the number of patients they tend to under various health schemes. ASHAs have been demanding Rs 2,000 more from the state government as fixed salary, while the supervisors have been demanding Rs 10,000 per month.
“The previous BJP government had assured Rs 2,000 as fixed salary to ASHAs. This government also assured the same. But an increase in the supervisors’ salary is not what we demanded,” said Raju Desle, president of the All-India Trade Union Congress.
On September 16, 2019, the state government had issued a resolution agreeing to increase the monthly fixed income of ASHAs subject to Cabinet approval. The approval remains pending.
Bholap said after the chief minister last year promised to increase their monthly income, “we have been waiting for the state government to implement it”.
The ASHAs had decided to go on strike since July 3 to press for better pay. With Covid-19 pandemic a major concern, the Maharashtra government fast-tracked approval to raise the salary for facilitators. ASHAs told The Indian Express that they will hold a meeting to discuss whether to continue the plan of the July 3 strike.
“We are all angry. We have to go visit all migrant labourers who returned have home and check for Covid-19 symptoms. We are risking our and our family’s lives. My husband lost his job due to lockdown. I am the only earning member,” said Suvarna Patil, ASHA from Sangli.
Currently, ASHAs are also conducting immunisation drives and providing ante-natal care apart from the Covid-19 survey.
Dr Mahesh Botle, Joint Commissioner in the Directorate of Health Services, said, “We are planning to propose yearly 5-10 per cent increment for ASHAs. The cabinet approval has been delayed due to the pandemic.”
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