Staff Reporter, The Hindu
Thousands of anganwadi workers across Chickballapur and Bangalore Rural districts will boycott work on May 4 to protest the entry of mining-major Vedanta into the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in the State.
Around 3,000 anganwadis in Hoskote, Magadi, Doddaballapur, Devanahalli, Nelamangala taluks and those in Chickballapur district will demand the nullification of the memorandum of understanding signed with Vedanta Foundation, a non-governmental organisation funded by Vedanta, said S. Varalakshmi of the Karnataka State Anganwadi Workers’ Association. The decision was taken after talks with the local administration failed.
Though the protest is against privatisation of the ICDS, the association is vehemently opposed to the mining company. “The company has made a lot of money through mining activities, some of which is against the law of the land. We feel their entry into the ICDS is only to change their image across the country,” she alleged.
According to the MoU signed by the Vedanta Foundation and the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) on April 10, the foundation would “help” the district administration of the four districts — Bangalore Rural, Bangalore Urban, Chickballapur and Ramanagaram districts — by providing supplementary nutrition, and help in capacity building of anganwadi workers.
Incidentally, Member of Parliament from Chickballapur is Union Minister of Corporate Affairs M. Veerappa Moily. “The MoU states that a supervisor selected by Vedanta would oversee our work. We oppose this strongly. If at all the government needs the funds or resources, the company should hand them over to the DWCD, who should then supervise the work,” said Ms. Varalakshmi.
The association had also written to the Chief Minister to oppose the proposal to introduce village committees to supervise work in anganwadis. “As members of the proposed village committees would be selected by local representatives, we feel that the committee would become politicised. The members would then be selected only from the party which is in power in that constituency,” said Ms. Varalakshmi.