April 04, 2021

Linking Payment To ‘Poshan Tracker’ App, Illegal & Unethical

ALL India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers(AIFAWH has condemned the decision of the central government to complete the downloading of the “Poshan Tracker” App by March 15, 2021. This application is supposed to be downloaded by all the anganwadi workers and helpers.

The payment of the honorarium of anganwadi workers and helpers from March 2021 onwards will be done through this app. Further, this application will also track data which will have to be punched by anganwadi workers in states and UTs regarding allocation of foodgrains/ funds to states/ UTs from the first quarter onwards based on data of beneficiaries. The worker getting an honorarium of Rs 4,500 per month must possess a mobile phone with an android operating system!

The government which developed the mobile application a few months back has directed the states and all the anganwadi workers and helpers to download it within ten days. In most of the states, the distribution of mobile phones has not yet completed. In some states, it is reported that the mobile phones were distributed to the anganwadi workers a couple of years back and these phones have older versions of android system which are incompatible with the “Poshan Tracker” App. Many of the DPO/CDPO offices are yet to be digitised.

Although the anganwadi workers are asked to upload data online, most of the states are not paying the allowance for the data (Rs 200 per month) to the anganwadi workers.  Further, in many parts of the country, mobile connectivity is not available or very poor and it is almost impossible to upload data from mobile phones. In states like Himachal Pradesh, the anganwadi workers have to travel kilometres to get internet connectivity to upload data.

The decision by the ministry to link the payment of the anganwadi workers with the downloading of the ”Poshan Tracker” App and to withhold the remuneration of the anganwadi workers from March 2021 is illegal and unethical. Further, the decision to withhold the allotment of funds and food grains from the first quarter of 2021 will deprive lakhs of malnourished children of their right to food.

Since the lockdown, the anganwadi centres are not yet fully operational. The anganwadi workers have been fighting the Covid-19 pandemic risking their lives.  The non-availability of the mobile phones and the non-payment for data are not any fault of the anganwadi workers or the beneficiaries. Instead of using the new technologies to reduce the work burden and improve efficiency, using them for penalising the grass root level workers and beneficiaries is against the interest of the people. Such announcements come from a government that has cut down the budget allocation for ICDS by 30 per cent in spite of the alarming increase in malnutrition and absolute poverty during the Covid pandemic and lockdown.

AIFAWH demands that the ministry of WCD must withdraw the letter and the decision to link the remuneration (honorarium) of the anganwadi workers and the food grains /fund of ICDS with the functioning of the “Poshan Tracker” App immediately.

The government must ensure adequate financial allocation for ICDS to improve infrastructure, quality nutrition, proper training etc., in addition to the allocation for procurement of mobile phone, mobile data, training, availability of networks before fully shifting to the web-based reporting system.