Amid high unemployment, J-K Social Welfare Deptt disengages 918 Helpers

According to an order issued by Secretary SWD Sheetal Nanda, these appointments were made without the approval of any post, budget, or funding to pay their salaries.

SRINAGAR (J&K) — In the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) program of the Social Welfare Department (SWD), the Jammu and Kashmir government has disengaged the services of 918 Helpers to supervisors.

These appointments were made without the clearance of any post, budget, or funds to pay their salaries, according to an order issued by Secretary SWD Sheetal Nanda.

According to her, the government had already written to Mission Directors about discontinuing their services.

She went on to say that she is directed to convey the decisions taken in the meeting held on the 27th of August, 2021, under the chairmanship of Advisor (Finance), where it was decided, among other things, that 918 Helpers to supervisors who have been ‘engaged un-authorizedly by field functionaries of ICDS, J&K from time to time without any sanctioned posts need to be immediately disengaged’.

The government has now decided to immediately disengage 918 Helpers to supervisors with effect from September 1, 2021.

The order continued that clear instructions have already been conveyed by the Advisor (Finance) and the Administrative Secretary in the meeting be reiterated to field agencies that if any officer/official continues their services beyond 31.08.2021, he/she will be personally responsible for payment of their dues and necessary disciplinary action will be initiated against such officer/official.

Disengaged Anganwadi Helpers stage protests

On Saturday, Jammu and Kashmir Helpers to Supervisors Association of ICDS department staged a protest demonstration in Srinagar against the J-K administration’s order of their ‘sudden’ disengagement from the services.

“We will continue to protest till the order is removed,” stated Association President Mehjabeena.

She added, “Consider this: we have devoted our blood and sweat to this department for the past 10 to 25 years, and now we are being suddenly fired.”

Furthermore, the workers claimed that they had not been paid in the past three years. “We seldom get paid on time. We have been waiting for our pay for years. We protested and raised our voices, yet it appears that our protests were ignored,” another demonstrator stated.

Decision a step to deteriorate the employment scenario

According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), J&K had a 10.6% unemployment rate in June, however unemployment has been steadily declining since the beginning of the year.

The unemployment rate was 21.9 percent at the start of 2021, but it dropped to 14.2 percent in February, 11.4 percent in April, and 12.1 percent in May.

Though the unemployment rate in J&K has decreased according to the CMIE, it remains higher than the national average.

Other data sources, in addition to official numbers, illustrate the severity of unemployment in J&K. For example, last year’s employment registration by the Directorate of Employment saw 3 lakh postgraduate and doctoral degree holders register.

Some months ago, the J&K Service Selection Board advertised 8000 Class-IV positions and received 5.4 lakh applications.

In its preliminary assessment, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries stated that since August 2019, five lakh jobs have been lost in Kashmir alone as a result of the repeal of Article 370, which was followed by a lockdown to battle the COVID pandemic.

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