Honorarium blow to midday meal cooks
New Delhi: Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar has reportedly struck down a proposal to increase from a paltry Rs 1,000 a month the honorarium for cooks-cum-helpers preparing midday meals.
A cabinet note moved recently seeking extension of the scheme for three years from 2017 is silent on any increase in the wage of the 25 lakh workers, most of whom are single women or widows.
A note prepared by officials of the school education department under the HRD ministry had proposed to double the honorarium and provide it for all 12 months a year instead of 10 months. But when the note went to the HRD minister for approval, he did not agree, official sources told The Telegraph. The version could not be corroborated with the minister.
Jai Bhagwan, the general secretary of the Left-backed Midday Meal Workers' Federation, said the decision by the minister showed "insensitivity".
"This shows the government is absolutely insensitive towards the poor workers who work up to 3pm everyday in the school. They prepare food and clean the utensils. They deserve much more than Rs 2,000 a month. It is criminal not to pay them proper wages," he said.
He said the workers federation would organise a nationwide agitation on this issue.
The UPA government had in 2013 promised to double the honorarium but left it pending. The NDA cabinet took up the proposal in July 2014 but deferred a decision.