North Delhi Municipal Corporation doctors threaten to resign over non-payment of salaries; mayor blames AAP govt for 'recurring' problem
In a fervent letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, doctors working in North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run hospitals said that they have not been paid their salaries for the last three months despite risking their lives in the battle against COVID-19
Even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Delhi, the National Capital is staring at a massive shortage of healthcare workers with nearly 800 doctors working in the hospitals run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) threatening to resign en masse over non-payment of salaries.
In a fervent letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the doctors lamented that they have not been paid their salaries for the last three months which has left them financially strained.
They also declared that they would have no option but to resign en-masse, if their salaries are not paid within five days.
Significantly, the civic body's apathy towards doctors has come to light at a time when healthcare workers are not only hailed and applauded for being at the frontline in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, states are also taking extra care to protect them from all kinds of stress in a bid to ensure that they can solely focus on their jobs.
Only recently, the Karnataka government decided to hike the salaries of the doctors working on contract basis. There has also been discussions amidst political circles in Maharashtra about the need to increase salaries of the doctors. But in contrast, doctors in the National Capital where the coronavirus has infected 7,639 persons and killed 86 have still not been paid their salaries.
In the letter, the doctors while re-iterating their solidarity with the nation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic said that the financial stress they are going through at this period is in contrary to the interest of the nation.
“In our selfless service to the nation in fighting COVID-19 in frontlines, we have not only risked our lives, but also that of our families. Many of our doctors have tested positive of COVID-19 . But we continue to work with uninterrupted impetus. But during this stressful time, non-payment of salaries for the last three months have caused severe strain to us and our families. It has started impacting our focus on our work,” says Dr RR Gautam, president of Municipal Corporation Doctor’s Association.
Significantly, there are five major hospitals run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Though none of these hospitals are designated as COVID-19 medical care facilities, many of them function as testing facilities which make doctors working in them vulnerable to the novel coronavirus .
“Many of these hospitals also have isolation wards to segregate patients who are suspected to have been infected. Doctors have to treat these patients regularly. Apart from them, every day doctors from our hospitals are deputed at airports for screening of passengers,” he said.
Three doctors have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Hindu Rao Hospital while five doctors and one nurse tested positive in Kasturba Gandhi Hospital. Both hospitals are run by the NDMC.
Though the doctors appreciate the showering of flowers on COVID-19 warriors via helicopters, they lament that doctors in the civic body hospitals are struggling to make both ends meet due to non-payment of salaries.
Significantly, non-payment of salaries of the NDMC doctors is not a new phenomenon. This problem occurs intermittently after every few months.
“This problem has existed since the trifurcation of the MCDs. We have been repeatedly writing to the authorities to find a solution to this problem. But no solution has been reached yet. Let alone salaries, our arrears right from the implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission remains unpaid,” said KP Rewani, another doctor.
There are nearly 800 doctors, employed in the hospitals run by the NDMC, who have not received their salaries for the last three months. They have approached the authorities but received no assurance from them.
The MCD authorities, however, blame the Delhi government for non-payment of dues.
Avtar Singh, mayor, NDMC told Firstpost that the Delhi government is yet to pay Rs 35 crores due on the heads such as sanitation and health, which is the root cause for the delay in payment of salaries of doctors.
"I have been writing to the Delhi government repeatedly to release the due amount immediately. But I have not received any favourable response,” he said.
He also said that the NDMC is unable to pay the salaries of the doctors unless the Delhi government releases the funds.
Last year, doctors in the NDMC had gone a strike due to non-payment of salaries. The strike was called off after the Delhi government released the funds. The recurrence of the situation this year as well seems to show that a similar controversy is just moments away.
Maharashtra's COVID-19 recovery rate stands at 97.06 percent, while the fatality rate is 2.12 percent
Among the eight regions of Maharashtra, the Pune region reported the highest 1,483 new COVID-19 cases, followed by 970 cases in the Mumbai region
On 9 February, Maharashtra had reported 2,515 new COVID-19 cases, while 22 deaths were registered on 8 March