Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) from every part of Karnataka launched an indefinite day-and-night protest in Bengaluru on Friday, January 03. In a massive demonstration, the workers demanded a fixed monthly payment of ₹12,000 and delinking of the Reproductive Child Health (RCH) portal from ASHA Soft which is the Centre’s online payment system for ASHAs.
The workers marched from the City Railway Station to Freedom Park in Bengaluru in large numbers.
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“ASHA Soft, which facilitates the Health Department to capture beneficiary-wise details of services given by ASHAs to the community, and also ensures online payments to their bank accounts, is making life harder for them. The beneficiary-wise details that are uploaded by data entry operators are invariably delayed or not done properly due to which most of us do not get paid on time,” D. Nagalakshmi, secretary of Karnataka State Samyukta ASHA Workers’ Association told The Hindu.
Denying these claims, the commissioner said: “We have simplified data entry and one ANM has been assigned for every four ASHAs. An exclusive tablet has been provided for data entry and there should not be a problem.”
She said that the workers who had a meeting with Health Minister B. Sriramulu and top health officials in the city on Monday were not satisfied with the government’s response to their demands.
“This was our fourth meeting with the Minister and all that we have been getting are false promises. We will stage a two-day day and night strike in Bengaluru and continue the strike indefinitely in our districts till our demands are met,” Nagalakshmi said.
Traffic flow was obstructed in and around Bengaluru’s Majestic circle and surrounding roads as nearly 25,000 ASHA workers took to the streets.
Complaining of delay in payments, the ASHAs also demand timely disbursement of salaries as most of them have not been paid for the last 15 months.
Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said of the total 12 demands, the government had accepted only four totally and four on a partial basis.
“We cannot give them a fixed honorarium as the Centre has put in place a performance-based incentive payment mode for ASHAs across the country,” he said.