NEW DELHI: It has been two months since Tugalabad resident Ganga’s children have not received proper nutrition. The dry ration which she gets from the nearby anganwadi centre has dried up for the last two months because of the ongoing strike of the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union, seeking a hike in honorarium.
The strike resulted in the shutting of 95 Anganwadi projects under which over 10,000 centres function. These projects provide dry ration to children up to the age of three, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Under this, the families are given chana, daliya and puffed rice every 15 days.
The dry ration was a big help for the family of four, who are now suffering due to the ongoing strike. Ganga’s husband works as a labourer with a carpenter and manages to earn around Rs 8,000 per month. A large amount of money also goes into his alcoholism due to which the family suffers.
In an attempt to feed her two children aged three months and two and-a-half years, Ganga recently started working. She earns around Rs 25 a day by removing unwanted threads from export fabrics. “Each cloth is two metres long and we get Rs 5 by taking out threads from them,” explains Ganga.
She has recently started this work in order to provide small things like milk, biscuits to her children. “Whatever ration was given two months back is finished, so with this money which I have started earning by removing thread from clothes, I manage to get milk, and biscuits for the children.”
She says that her elder daughter, who is two-and-a-half years old, has also lost weight and now weighs 10kg. Her son aged three months is only surviving on breastfeeding. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old woman weighs 45 kilos. “I have also not been able to lactate enough,” she bemoans.
Along with the women, Matri Sudha, an NGO working for children’s rights in collaboration with the families and Anganwadi workers in Nardan Basti of southeast Delhi’s Tughlakabad, complains that the children’s growth monitoring has also halted.
“The children are totally on their own now. The dry ration which is given to them is not entirely theirs as it is used by the entire family,” says Pinki, a Project Manager in the NGO. With Covid and now the strike, there has been an observed weight loss among these children as proper nutrition is not reaching them.
According to 25-year old Chanda, who has a three-month-old daughter and two sons aged three and six,
she gets ration for only the youngest child. Chanda’s husband is a laborer and has been out of work every now and then for the last two years.