New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Wednesday enhanced the honorarium for Anganwadi workers and helpers. The move will benefit nearly 2.7 million employees of the government’s rural child care centres.

The honorarium for Anganwadi workers has been increased from 3,000 per month to 4,500 per month. For Anganwadi workers at mini-centres and Anganwadi helpers, it has been hiked from 2,250 to 3,500 and 1,500 to 2,250, respectively, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said after the cabinet meeting.

The pay hike will cost the exchequer 10,649.41 crore. It will be applicable from 1 October, 2018, to 31 March, 2020.

The increase in honorarium is part of the ASHA (accredited social health activist) Benefit Package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, which was given ex-post facto approval by the cabinet on Wednesday. Under the package, Modi had announced inclusion of ASHA and ASHA facilitators in social security schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.

In a move that can be seen as a sop for Madhya Pradesh, which goes to polls next year, the cabinet also approved the construction of a railway line between Budni and Indore at an estimated cost of 3,261.82 crore. The 205km railway line will connect backward areas and reduce travel time from Indore to Jabalpur, and Indore to Mumbai. It will serve the districts of Sehore, Dewas and Indore. The line will also connect Nasrullaganj, Khategoan and Kannod towns, which don’t have rail connectivity.

The cabinet has also approved the revised cost estimate of the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP) of 3,466 crore to improve safety and operational performance of 198 dams, along with institutional strengthening with system-wide management approach. Of the total amount, 2,628 crore will be funded by the World Bank and 747 crore will be funded by DRIP states or implementing agencies. The rest will come from the Central Water Commission.

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