Former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s focus on fulfilling big manifesto promises eclipsed women’s issues during the AAP’s 49 days in power.
Since Kejriwal took over, around 21 women managing the 181 women’s helpline, launched by former CM Sheila Dikshit, have been working without a salary.
The government also failed to release a quarterly grant in January to the 130 gender resource centres (GRC) in the city. As a result, 35 contract staff on the government payroll and 1,200 employees — appointed by NGOs — have not received their salaries.
The widow pension – a monthly assistance of Rs. 1,500 – was also restricted in certain districts as the government failed to clear files on time.
But, AAP leader and former education minister Manish Sisodia said Kejriwal was unaware of their financial situation. “So many people were coming to meet us with their problems. They too should have informed either the CM or me about not receiving their salaries,” Sisodia said.
“I had written to the chief minister at least thrice,” said Khadijah Farouqui, a women activist managing 181 at the Delhi Secretariat. She confirmed that her team had not been paid their salaries since January despite the tenure of the helpline recently being extended till March 31.
A senior official in CM’s office said that appointment of the helpline workers still hadn’t been cleared “but the files have been moved”. Sources said the file had been sent to Kejriwal last month.
As for GRCs, the funds could not be released as the Department of Women and Child Development had not received a revised estimate.
“That’s because there was no budget. All the money in the GRCs had been utilised and revised estimates had not been received. The widow pension, however, has been started again,” a senior official said. “We have not received our salaries for January. A lot of work is getting affected. We have to hire cabs for field visits. But since we had no money to pay last month’s bill, the vendor has stopped sending the cabs,” said a GRC coordinator..
There were also no funds for vocational training of women, organising health awareness camps, or providing extra classes to female students to control dropout rates.